COVID-19 Opportunities in Hawaii’s Second Shutdown


In July, I wrote an essay stating my intention to release monthly thoughts about our time living in Hawaii. Well, I missed July, August, and almost September. My absence is due to the fact that COVID-19 has made Hawaii seem less like a paradise and more like a prison. However, as I’ve relearned, with a little perspective change, the restrictions remain only in one’s mind.

Some would balk at my last sentence by saying, “Oh, Hawaii’s a great place to be stranded during a pandemic!” 

All Hawai'i Beaches Closed by Governor's Supplementary Proclamation | Maui Now | Hawaii NewsWhile the prior statement sounds good, when the most populated island, Oahu, is mostly shut down due to a resurgence in COVID-19; thus, living here during August and September has not been the fantasy one imagines. Restaurants, hotels, and other activities have been closed. Additionally, even beaches, parks, and hiking trails have been off-limits, resulting in possible $5,000 fines.[1] So one could say, “Oh, Hawaii’s a great place to be stranded during a pandemic,” but that statement can be said sarcastically too. 

Lately, I’ve jokingly told people that I’m stranded on a “penal colony in the middle Pacific Ocean” because if you leave Oahu, you’re on a 14-day lockdown when you return. When you return, most of the island’s beauty if closed off. As a result, I’ve titled Hawaii from being the “Aloha State” to the A-“NO”-ha-ha State” because it’s a sad joke that the answer for many things has been “NO!”

With these “no’s,” there has been a lot of finger-pointing towards who’s responsible for COVID-19’s increased spread on Oahu. For example, some locals blame the military, citing a large beach gathering broken up by police.[2] In return, others blame locals as there was a cliff diving competition at Waimea Bay with Hawaiian flags proudly flying.[3] Others erroneously blame tourists who aren’t following the rules.[4] Despite these examples, each of these cases is isolated incidents as one example doesn’t prove fault towards any one group. 

I think it’s a combination of errors on all sides. Instead, I share these examples to illustrate how Hawaii’s welcoming and aloha culture has changed and been challenged during COVID-19’s impact on the State, and more specifically, Oahu with the recent government restrictions. 

Regarding the restrictions, I believe State, County, and City governments have good intentions regarding these COVID-19 restrictions, but despite the government’s efforts, two facts must be considered. 

First, after two-weeks of surge testing on Oahu in September of 2020, the return rate resulted in a less than 1% infection spread.[5] Second, the local Chamber of Commerce expressed concerns that if businesses don’t reopen soon than within six months, then 65% of them will permanently close.[6] Despite the government’s positive political spin, these statistics don’t pair well together. A new approach might be worth considering as the 1% spread is not worth a permeant 65% economic blow. 

Please know that I don’t want harm or death to anyone from COVID-19. The virus is real; it has real adverse effects and should be respected with proper precautions. At the same time, I don’t think COVID-19 is going away anytime soon, and no matter where we live, we’ve got to learn how to live with the virus. In contrast, then, the above Oahu statistics show there have been some overreactions to the virus. Therefore, we must find a path that protects people, maintains businesses, and preserves the Hawaiian culture many people love, a culture that has healed me personally and spiritually from a lot of bitterness. A culture that, despite these restrictions, affords many beautiful opportunities. 

With many things, life is what you make of your circumstances. As of this writing, Oahu is starting its first phase in reopening, which is still very restricted. I hope that the current governmental glide path will allow businesses to reopen in Hawaii. Also, everyone will learn how to live through the pandemic than avoid living their lives cautiously. If so, begin thinking about how you can come to Hawaii. There will probably be great tourist deals that will give you a once in a lifetime chance to see these beautiful islands. 

In the meantime, we shouldn’t stop anyone from cherishing the “simple life.” For example, my wife and I recently grabbed takeout, split the dish,OAHU: #1 Rated Romantic Couples Activities in Hawaii - Adventure Tours Hawaiiand watched the sunset together as we sat on the edge of the pier. Each of us has pursued hobbies we now have time to accomplish. Also, this time has been a period where we’ve saved money because many things are closed. Furthermore, we’ve found the joy of cooking/grilling at home with family. 

In other words, we’ve taken the restored optimism the Hawaiian culture has given us to pivot towards finding new opportunities and loves for ourselves and with another. What opportunities exist for you? How can you shift the change with COVID-19 where you are located? What mindsets do you need to change to see the opportunities than the obstacles? What else can you do versus what you can’t do?

For now, consider this my September post in my Hawaii series. Next month’s, I’ll share a list of hikes Amy and I have done across all the islands while listing stories from our favorite paths. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to interact with me as I enjoy hearing from you.