By: Isabella Grullón Paz

@ 2020 The New York Times Company

Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday that the state will “safely open” to fully vaccinated residents and visitors who are traveling domestically and between islands for business or pleasure, starting Nov. 1.

The governor made the announcement Tuesday afternoon during the opening of the permanent Federal Inspection Services facility at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport, on the island of Hawaii.

Ige cited lower coronavirus rates and fewer hospitalizations as reasons to welcome tourists back into the state.

“I think we are all encouraged by what we’ve seen over the last several weeks with the continuing trend of lower case counts,” Ige said. “Our hospitals are doing better, and we have fewer COVID patients in them,” he added.

In August, the governor had urged tourists to stay away from the islands while the state faced a COVID-19 surge that was straining hospitals and causing oxygen shortages.

In the past seven days, Hawaii has seen a daily average of 121 people testing positive for the coronavirus, compared to a daily average of 910 during the state’s peak in September, according to a New York Times database. In the past two weeks, new cases decreased by 55% and hospitalizations decreased by 46%.

On Oct. 2, the governor extended his emergency order in the state until Nov. 30. Under the current order, social gatherings are restricted to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. At restaurants, bars and other social establishments, customers must maintain 6-foot social distancing and wear masks except when eating or drinking. The order also puts a 50% capacity on bars, restaurants, gyms and social establishments.

Earlier this year Ige said that once 70% of Hawaii residents were fully vaccinated, he would drop all COVID-19 related restrictions. Fifty-nine percent of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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