Since tourism relaunch, police have issued 4,500 warnings for violating COVID-19 orders

Updated: Oct. 20, 2020 at 1:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of visitors to Oahu have been warned or cited for not wearing masks or failing to social distance.

Honolulu police said they’ve issue 4,500 warnings and 470 citations since the launch of the traveler testing program Thursday, which has brought tens of thousands of trans-Pacific arrivals to Hawaii.

Police also said several people were arrested for violating Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s emergency orders.

Caldwell said that the visitor industry isn’t doing enough to inform tourism about the rules.

“I’m a little discouraged by the fact that our partners in the visitor industry have not started to educate visitors," he said.

“The local folks are abiding. If they see visitors not abiding, it’s going to create resentment between local and visitors.”

Some lawmakers agreed.

“It would be wonderful if the tourism industry can provide a video that could be played on the plane as they come in or a quick guides on what’s allowable and not allowable as you get off the plane,” said City Councilman Tommy Waters.

Visitors said they also had a hard time figuring out the rules.

“We just did a lot of research. We were watching when you guys were going to open. We just did a lot of research and we just found out,” said Alicen Phillips, a resident of Franklin, North Carolina.

Under Caldwell’s emergency order, masks are required everywhere indoors ― except in a person’s home or while they’re sitting at their desks at work.

They’re also required outdoors if a person can’t practice physical distancing or aren’t by themselves.

Because they’ve taken a test, supporters of reopening said tourists pose less of a risk than large gatherings of local residents.

“I think what the test does from a perception point of view and the science ― at least no one is going to come in here without being able to verify some shape or form from this test that they are COVID-free," said Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

Hannemann said hotels have implemented an extensive education program for their guests about the restrictions. But he said that they can’t enforce visitors' behavior once they leave their properties.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the state is also doing it’s best to educate tourists.

“We have made it very clear that upon entry that everyone has to wear a mask while their in Hawaii,. They get instructions from our National Guard," said Green.

Some visitors believe their fellow travelers are mostly following the laws.

“There’s always people who are not going to follow the rules but the majority ― yeah, I’d say the majority are," said Maryland resident Pearl Smith.

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