Rainy Side View: How to avoid a rockier road

Ibet you’re as tired as I am of this whole COVID-19 thing. And in case we don’t have enough to worry about, trans-Pacific travel has started.

More people means more business, but it also means more worries, despite COVID pre-tests. Mahalo to Mayor Harry Kim for insisting on a second test upon arrival, but it didn’t take long for that to go kapakahi. Let’s hope by now incoming crowds at airports are better managed.

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Travelers have the choice to come or not, so it’s their kuleana to help keep us safe. Did you see the tourist on Oahu who claimed that she lost her test results? This old teacher was waiting to hear that the dog ate it.

COVID regulations are online, and since each island has different rules, I hope the counties are also printing hard copies for widespread posting and distribution on airlines, at hotels, tour companies, restaurants, shops, etc.

But I recall passing out handouts in class, and then watched them disappear into the bowels of overstuffed book bags, so once is not enough. If copies are everywhere, there can be no excuse for ignorance. And be sure to boldface that violation of protocol is a misdemeanor and violators face citations, hefty fines and even jail time.

Equally important, though, is to follow through on warnings, and for violators: Book ’em, Danno!

Who’s coming in? Returning residents, resident wannabes and vacationers. Remembering an earlier life, I’m aware of vacation mentality, but some tourists think we’re Disneyland, forgetting that Hawaii’s natural wonders can kill them. Don’t jump off forbidden cliffs, don’t straddle the blowhole, and don’t steam-bathe at volcano vents. Believe it or not, pupule persons visiting “Paradise” have actually pulled these pranks.

If anyone assumes that their COVID pre-test allows them to escape pandemic protocol, they’ll be wrong. Please continue to wash hands often, keep social distance and wear a mask. But this is Hawaii, so do it with aloha! That means no rudeness, impatience or grumbling.

In addition to national and local guidelines, this retired educator has other common-sense suggestions.

1. For returning residents, forgo local-style hugging and kissing as well as large gatherings. We all want to get back to ‘ono potlucks, but our island allows only 10 to gather in groups indoors and out, so delay a while.

2. For vacationers, we hope you won’t, but if you must seek out secret waterfalls or off-the-path hiking trails, pay for your own rescue if you have to call for help. Don’t take scarce resources away from islanders.

3. For visitors and new residents alike, spend, spend, spend. Buy local, eat lots, tip big. Everyone is hurting and can use support.

4. For everyone, read that handout! And true to good teaching practices, how about, in addition to the virus pre-test, we also administer a written exam on protocols? Upon arrival, you must show your passing score along with negative COVID test results.

The written exam part is just a joke, because even teachers need to laugh, but don’t you think a protocol test is a good idea? I’m full of good ideas.

We want everyone to enjoy our islands, so in order to keep the virus at bay and confrontations down, everyone has to do their part. We locals should try to not feel envious of those who can still afford a vacation or buy a house during a pandemic. And visitors and newcomers should be informed and sensitive to the dire plight of islanders.

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Can? Hope so. Otherwise, we’ll be heading down an even rockier road.

Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. She welcomes your comments at rainysideview@gmail.com. Her column appears every other Monday.

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