"Tourist Go Home" – Tensions Soar As Hawaiians Urge Non-Residents To "Leave"

Hawaiians are becoming increasingly angry, not because the tourism industry has collapsed, and 37% of the labor force has just filed for unemployment, but mostly because US mainlanders, motivated by super discounted flights and hotel rooms, continue to pour into the various Hawaiian Islands during the pandemic

Troy Kane, a local on Oahu, who was interviewed by The Guardian, said residents are abiding by the stay-at-home orders as cases and deaths surge. He points out tourists on the island are ignoring social distancing rules and risk spreading the virus to locals.

"Locals are following the orders, staying home. But there are people, who are clearly tourists, here by the dozens," said Kane. "They're still out here, still in groups of seven or more, still coming, and that's a problem."

The Guardian says, "$100 airfares" are enticing people in quarantine in the continental US to vacation in Hawaii. Last week, nearly 800 tourists arrived on the islands. The influx triggered a nerve among locals and officials who argue tourists need to leave. 

As of Monday, 580 cases and ten deaths have been confirmed across the Hawaiian Islands. About 35 cases have been non-residents.

Kane is a neighborhood board member and community representative of Waimanalo and says the native Hawaiian and Micronesian populations on the islands are at higher risk of contracting the disease. He worries for his community and family that tourists are blatantly disregarding the public health order. 

"People will always see this place as their playground. And in this moment, as a Native Hawaiian, this is very reflective of many historical circumstances, where people from outside of the islands have come in and caused real harm to the native population. It's not always with the direct intent to do so, but the impacts, especially on Hawaiian people, are very real," he said.

"If you take our history, it tells us that we are not very well protected."

Hawaiians last month protested tourists arriving at the Maui airport. Some held signs that said: "TOURIST GO HOME," "LEAVE OUR AINA!," "TIME TO GO," and "GO HOME." 

Maui residents protesting tourist near airport on March 21. h/t Star-Advertiser
Protester near airport on March 21. h/t Star-Advertiser
Protesters near Maui airport on March 21. h/t Star-Advertiser

Josh Masslon, a Maui-based ICU nurse, said the healthcare system on the islands does not have enough capacity to handle a virus outbreak. 

"It's beyond frustrating," said Masslon. "We cannot handle an outbreak with our resident population alone."

Masslon said he's called the police on tourists for breaking the public health order.

So, at what point do Hawaiians, fed up with ignorant tourists breaking social distancing rules and risk infecting the local community, take the law into their own hands and start blocking airport exits, preventing new arrivals from entering?