(BIVN) – The Special Senate Committee on COVID-19 recently got an update on the RIMPAC military exercise, still planned for this summer in the waters off Hawaiʻi despite the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor David Ige has been in contact with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command about the matter, said the governor’s Chief of Staff, Linda Chu Takayama, on Monday.
“He’s been working with them trying to figure out if RIMPAC moves forward, if we can figure out a way to protect Hawaiʻi by refusing to allow any of the personnel aboard the ships to disembark,” Takayama said.
In March, it was reported that this year’s Rim of the Pacific 2020 international naval exercise is still scheduled to take place in July, and will “be more complex and challenging than in years past,” according to U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. John Aquilino.
As pressure grows to cancel the military drill, it was reported that Governor Ige said he would ask the U.S. military to postpone the event. However, according to his Chief of Staff, he is only requesting that participants stay on their ships.
“We have not gotten a firm response yet, as to whether RIMPAC can go forward in some abbreviated fashion or not,” Takayama said. “But we are trying to be as accommodating as we can, while not allowing any of them to actually come on land and be a danger to the citizens here, recognizing that for the military to be able to conduct these exercises. Its one of the main reasons why we have such a big military presence here, which has been very helpful both to our security and as well as to our economy.”
“So, he has made contact with them and is trying to work that out,” Takayama said.
An online petition asking the government to “Stop the Largest Naval War Practice in the World that with COVID19 Endangers Hawaii and the World” has 8,939 signatures.