Visitor privileges returned to Hawaii’s Kalaupapa after COVID-19 ban

An isolated peninsula on Molokai is the site of a former leprosy patient colony.

The Hawaii Department of Health has reinstated visiting privileges to former Hansen’s disease patients and staff residing in Kalaupapa who have been prohibited from seeing family and friends for more than two years during the pandemic.

The state imposed much stricter restrictions on the isolated Molokai peninsula than enacted in the rest of the state, leading some patients to beg for hugs even as much of the rest of the world was accepting COVID-19 as a manageable part. of everyday life. Some patients suffering from memory loss due to old age sometimes get confused about living in the coronavirus lockdown with previous experiences of being rejected by the world as leprosy patients.

But the state recently relaxed its general no-visitor policy enacted in March 2020. Starting in November, Kalaupapa residents can request approval for sponsored visits from up to six vaccinated guests at a time, the health department said. The total number of visitors in the settlement is capped at 25.

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