Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Hawai‘i Intensifies Screening, Tracking Process to Enforce Travel Quarantine

April 25, 2020, 4:19 PM HST
* Updated April 26, 8:20 AM
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PC: Pixabay

Hawai‘i’s mandatory, 14-day travel quarantine has been extended through the end of May, but that’s only one measure the state is taking to try and contain any incoming cases of coronavirus.

“We will be strengthening screening efforts to prevent visitors from avoiding quarantine,” Gov. David Ige said Saturday.

All incoming arrivals will be temperature screened. Those who register a high temperature will be moved to a separate area of the airport for further testing.

Once through the temperature check, arrivals must provide a phone number to wherever it is they’re staying. For visitors, this will often mean hotels. At that point, a state representative at the airport will place a call to confirm reservations. If there is no answer after repeated tries or the person who does answer fails to provide reservation confirmation, the traveler in question will not be allowed to leave the airport.

Those who fail to provide a number will be “handed over to law enforcement and will be subject to citations and/or arrest,” said Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (DOT) Spokesperson Tim Sakahara.

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Twenty DOT employees will be tasked with making follow-up calls to returning residents to verify compliance with the traveler quarantine order. Representatives of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority will be doing the same for visitors staying in hotels and resorts.

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Arrivals who successfully prove their reservations and pass all health screenings will then be made to sign a document acknowledging they understand the lockdown orders, as well as that any violation of them is a criminal offense punishable by up to a $5,000 fine or one year in jail.

Law enforcement will be on hand at airports to deal with any arrival who turns combative or refuses to comply with policies.

Ultimately, the state would prefer tourists don’t come to Hawai‘i at all for the time being.

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“People must understand that this is not the time to be vacationing in Hawai‘i,” Sakahara said. “But if they do, they must abide by the traveler quarantine order or face the consequences.”

Vacation rentals. PC: Pixabay.

Sakahara also issued a warning to vacation rentals across the state, all of which are currently illegal if operating during lockdown orders, as they are not considered part of essential business.

Along with phone numbers, arrivals will also provide addresses to their destinations. For residents, the addresses need to match their state identification cards. For visitors, the addresses must match hotels or resorts cleared to operate during the pandemic.

Any address not affiliated with a hotel will be checked against county property records to make sure it’s legitimate. A list of short-term rental sites suspected of illegal activity in each county will also be provided to personnel tasked with verification of arrivals’ information.

“This should be a warning to all vacation rentals in the state to stop accepting visitor reservations because the government will have the address,” Sakahara said, “and they will be subject to enforcement if they are operating illegally.”

The governor was asked if future measures the state might take included potential wristband or ankle monitors to track arrivals. He left open the door to that possibility when he didn’t answer directly, saying instead that the state would try to find solutions that keep visitors, returning residents and the rest of the community healthy and safe.

Ige and Department of Health (DOH) Director Bruce Anderson on Saturday each stressed a significant majority of COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i are attributable either to residents who traveled and brought the virus back home with them or to community spread. However, that is in large part because cruise ships no longer drop anchor in Hawaiian seaports and air travel has shrunk to an almost non-existent level.

Department of Transportation spokesperson Tim Sakahara said overall passenger arrivals by air to Hawai‘i are down more than 99% from this time last year.

AIRPORT ARRIVALS FOR FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2020

Kona

Maui

O‘ahu

Lānaʻi

Total

Crew

2

88

2

92

Intended New Resident

57

57

Resident

19

133

3

155

Transit

45

45

Visitor

6

101

11

118

Grand Total

0

27

424

16

467

Flights

0

1

12

1

14

Regular flights to any Hawai‘i airport are now only coming from San Franciso, Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle and Guam.

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