Hawaii is slowly shutting down vacation rentals, one county after another

Morgan Hines

As the coronavirus continues to slam the United States, counties in Hawaii have slowly begun to shut down vacation rentals. 

As of noon Friday, Hawaii had 553 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and nine people had died, according to the state's website. Meanwhile, Gov. David Ige on Friday shut down beaches and restricted recreational boating and fishing to two people.

While Ige has declared hotels and motels as essential businesses that can remain open, vacation rentals or bead and breakfasts are not included. So counties are taking restrictions a step further: In Hawaii and Kauai counties, the mayors are shutting down vacation rentals. 

On April 10, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim declared that bed and breakfasts, short term rentals and time shares must ceases operation. Any guests who are already there may stay until the end of their pre-booked period.

Kim's rule went into effect April 13 and is expected to continue through April 30, though that date is subject to change at Gov. David Ige's or Kim's discretion in future emergency proclamations. 

Vacation rentals include "hosted and non‐hosted rentals typically single‐family houses or condominium apartment units and primarily used by for visitors from off‐island," according to a fact sheet released by the Kim's office.

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Kauai, Hawaii, a largely uninhabited island that features a state park, is a popular tourist destination.

Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami issued a similar order to go into effect Saturday, April 11, according to 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,” Kawakami said in a briefing, the Star Advertiser reported. 

On Thursday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he intended to crack down on visitors, including those staying in vacation rentals, as well, according to the Star Advertiser.

“We really wish right now, visitors would not travel here,” Caldwell said. “When they travel, the virus travels.”

USA TODAY reached out to the governor's office to inquire about statewide vacation rental regulations amid coronavirus.

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