Most hotels agree to participate in initiative aimed at better enforcing quarantine

To beef up visitor quarantine, most hotels are now on board with room key restrictions.

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Tourism Authority asked the hotels that are still open to voluntarily comply with a new initiative aimed at tracking visitors who are under mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The initiative calls for hotels to issue single-use room keys to guests when they check in.

"If they leave, then they’d have to go to the front desk and at that point the hotel can call law enforcement,” said state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, of the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19.

Only about 100 hotels remain open statewide.

And according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, most have agreed to the initiative; some have already implemented the program.

The state is working to crack down on the tourists who violate the rules, starting with their arrival at the airports. There are new forms that explain the penalty for violating and there is a phone and address verification process.

Hotel managers have helped police track down dozens of people not abiding by the quarantine and social media has led law enforcement to those staying at illegal vacation rentals.

Another way businesses are helping the state monitor visitors: Rental car companies have agreed to limit service.

Lawmakers have also talked about equipping tourists with ankle monitors and the state Attorney General told the Senate Committee that her office has used the device but only after a visitor was caught breaking quarantine.

Lawmakers and public health officials fear a surge in tourists by the end of the summer and hope to have contact tracing teams trained and ready by then. “I don’t want to see the travel cases starting to creep up again because we open up to tourism without having that ability to monitor people," said state Sen. Laura Thielen.

The Department of Transportation is requesting new equipment to spot arriving passengers who may be sick.

“They want to pursue thermal screening and thermal scanning," Dela Cruz said, "They’ve identified some technology that will cost about $23 - $36 million dollars.”

Dela Cruz said federal CARES Act money can be used to fund it. Hawaii received more than $850 million total and the legislative session will reconvene Monday so lawmakers can work on budget issues.

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