Signs of economic relief are plentiful as vaccination rates and visitor numbers soar

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) — With mass vaccinations and a recovering tourism market, some are feeling that Hawaii‘s economy is finally turning the tide.

“It’s really becoming a much healthier, normal psychological environment,” said Lt. gov. Josh Green.

“There’s still a bit of work to do, probably two months, before we get closer to herd immunity.”

On Friday, the daily attendance reached 24,000. That’s about 75 percent of the 2019 peak and compared to the May 7, 2020 daily number, which was less than 600.

It’s not just the economy that’s driving the optimism.

Hawaii’s vaccination rates are among the highest in the nation. The state hopes to reach its goal of 1 million fully vaccinated residents by June or July, bringing Hawaii closer to what it calls the herd immunity goal.

And with the increased vaccination rates, the community can open up further.

For example, last week schools in Hawaii were able to hold in-person graduation ceremonies for the first time in two years.

And on Sunday families celebrated Mother’s Day meetings – no virtual meetings like last year.

“I think we’re starting to shoot. I think we’re starting to heal as long as everyone keeps getting vaccinated, wearing their mask and social distancing,” said Tina Yamaki, President of Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

But Yamaki said there are still too many sectors – particularly retail and restaurants – that are struggling.

“There are still many companies trying to recover. You are currently in debt. They haven’t paid their commercial rent for almost a year,” she said.

Green says there is hope Hawaii’s economy will continue to improve after Japan lifted its self-imposed 14-day quarantine on travelers. That will likely be after the Tokyo Olympics in August.

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