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Tourists In Hawaii Who Break Quarantine Will Be Jailed For Up To A Year
Hawaii has been one of the stricter states in the U.S. when it comes to handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourists have been flocking to Hawaii as a “getaway” during this time, but instead, many have been given jail time.
A Californian couple was visiting Hawaii on their honeymoon and chose to ignore warnings to stay inside of their hotel room, which resulted in police arresting them last week.
Waikiki authorities say that the hotel staff urged the couple to self-quarantine and instead the couple left the hotel to walk around. They were warned a second time but also broke quarantine the very next day, which is when hotel staff called the police, leading to their arrest.
In another case, a Florida man and Illinois woman were arrested in Honolulu after the hotel staff saw the couple returning to their hotel room with takeout food and shopping bags.
Lieutenant Audra Sellers of the Maui Police Department tells CNN, “Our initial goal is to educate people. Our efforts are meant to keep people safe and stop them from spreading the virus.”
Sellers says that repeat offenders will be handled by the law, “If they’ve been warned, and do it again, we arrest them.”
Tourists arriving in Hawaii are required to complete documentation stating where they’ll be staying, their phone number, and acknowledging that violating quarantine is a criminal offense which can result in a $5,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
Airport health officials are also required to call the phone number the traveler provides on their documentation to confirm that the number is valid. Once the number is confirmed, the representative then calls the hotel to verify that the traveler has a reservation.
Transportation officials say, “Law enforcement officers are standing by to deal with anyone who refuses the process or becomes combative.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell spoke to CNN about Hawaii’s strict approach saying, “We, like most of the United States, are still dealing with the challenges of this pandemic. But right now, we see traveling as bringing the virus, and we would prefer people to not come until it’s safe to travel again.”
When speaking of Hawaii’s usual welcoming reputation, Caldwell says, “We’re a place of great aloha, and aloha still remains. But aloha works both ways. It works from the perspective of the people who live here and the people who visit here. If you’re coming here and acting irresponsibly, you’re not showing aloha to the place you say you care about.”
Hawaii state health officials announced on Friday that since March 13th, there have been no new COVID-19 cases.