Hawaii: County mayors in Hawaii and Kauai have begun the process of closing down vacation rentals during the coronavirus pandemic as they are not considered essential businesses like hotels and motels, according to a report appearing in USA Today.
As well as rentals, bed and breakfasts are also being shut down for the foreseeable future, following a decree by Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim last week. The ban is expected to remain in place until at least 30 April.
Guests who are already staying in such in properties will be allowed to complete their stays for the duration of their allocated booking.
As of Monday, Hawaii had a total of 580 confirmed cases, with 414 people having recovered from the virus and ten having died.
Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami has issued a similar order to go into effect, telling the Honolulu Star Advertiser: “Vacation rentals are not supervised in the same way as hotels, where it’s easier to distribute information about the 14-day quarantine period.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told the same newspaper: “We really wish right now, visitors would not travel here. When they travel, the virus travels.”
The crackdown on vacation rentals coincides with another report that 2,970 travellers from outside of Hawaii are believed to have stayed in short-term vacation rentals over the last 23 days, despite the two-week lockdown which only excludes essential businesses.
At the end of 2019, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said there were an estimated 33,118 vacation rentals in the state, although the number of foreign travellers staying in them is difficult to judge when rental properties are not distinguished from traditional lodging when they have to provide information on arrival in Hawaii.
All visitors to Hawaii are required to fill in an agricultural declaration form on arrival in order to prevent foreign plants, animals and other unwanted items from entering the state.
At this moment in time, it is a way of detecting where visitors will be staying if they are planning to self-isolate in Hawaii. However, the fact of whether they are staying in a vacation rental or not can be missed as they are not legally required to fill out all the sections which ask if they are staying with friends or family.