"It is a risky time to be traveling right now," Ige said Monday, asking visitors and residents to limit their travel to essential businesses only. "I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii. It’s not a good time to travel to the islands."
The announcement does not mean travelers cannot visit Hawaii, as Ige stopped short of blocking non-residents from the islands. He argued the situation was different now compared to last year when strict travel rules essentially shut down Hawaii’s tourism industry.
Since October, travelers arriving from out of state were allowed to bypass a 14-day quarantine requirement if they test negative for COVID-19. In July, the testing requirement went away for vaccinated Hawaii visitors.
"Last year in March, when I first asked for visitors to postpone travel to the islands, we saw a 60% reduction in the traffic to Hawaii," Ige said. "And then certainly, ordering the mandatory quarantine of all incoming visitors reduced travel to the islands by 99.5%, essentially 100% of travelers."
In Hawaii, masks are still required indoors and restaurants are operating at a limited capacity, according to reports.
Ige, a Democrat, said he supported Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi's announcement to restrict indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25.
Blangiardi said the rules taking effect Wednesday would apply to weddings and other events.
He's also urging people to get vaccinated. More than 62% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated, according to state data.
On Tuesday, Hawaii reported 565 new COVID infections and one death from the virus. In the last 14 days, there have been 9,520 new cases, Hawaii News Now reported.
"So when you’re looking at how transmissible delta is, we really got to control these large gatherings," Hiro Toiya, the city's emergency management director said at a news conference. "The status quo is not working, and it’s not acceptable."
Multiple Oahu hospitals have filled their regular beds as COVID-19 cases pour into emergency rooms. The city set up a 25-cot tent outside The Queen's Medical Center - West Oahu on Friday to help handle the influx.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.