State says ‘most’ visitors coming to Hawaii likely not following quarantine order

Updated: Apr. 9, 2020 at 7:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two weeks after the state’s mandatory quarantine for travelers went into effect, state officials are now acknowledging that most visitors aren’t adhering to the order.

That has lawmakers demanding a better way to track arrivals.

Under the mandate, all visitors and returning residents are required to quarantine for 14 days — the known maximum contagious period for the coronavirus.

Statistics show despite the order, Hawaii is still getting about 130 to 150 visitors daily.

“Most of them that are flying in, I’m quite certain they’re not following the quarantine order,” state Adjutant General Kenneth Hara told a special legislative committee Wednesday.

In a news conference later in the day, Gov. David Ige added: “I don’t believe it’s a situation where the majority of those who are ordered to quarantine are not obeying, but we are continuing to look at improving the system as we go."

Local lawmakers on the legislative panel said there should be a way to keep visitors out, period.

“We should just not have them come in,” said state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim. “It’s costing us more time and effort and using our resources.”

Added state Sen. Michelle Kidani: “To me, asking local residents to lock down and allowing tourists in is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool. It makes no sense."

Some have been demanding that the state stop flights from coming in to the islands altogether.

Ige said that simply won’t work. “I’ve had extensive conversations with the FAA and federal officials, and they’ve informed me that you cannot shut down the airport system, and they would not consider non-aeronautical reasons for shutting down an airport,” he said.

The governor said the state is considering confining visitors to a single vacant hotel, where they can be adequately monitored during the quarantine period.

As for the visitors who are here, at least one of them who arrived just a day before the mandatory quarantine went into effect. When asked if he would have been willing to stay in his hotel room for two weeks, he said he wouldn’t have.

“Stay in a hotel room for two weeks? I would have said no. I would have stayed in Seattle," said Khalid Iraqi, a Seattle resident who had been planning a two-week vacation in Hawaii with his family.

In Waikiki on Wednesday, several residents expressed surprise at the number of people on the streets.

“I actually was expecting less people walking around, but I guess everybody’s trying to get their exercise in, so it’s really good," said Kaimuki resident Charlene Mercier, who was making her first visit to Waikiki in more than two weeks.

“I notice the visitors because to me, I think they stick out because we all know to wear our masks,” said Waikiki resident Stephen Danforth.

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