HPD chief says most violators of COVID restrictions are residents, not tourists


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Even with thousands of tourists arriving on Oahu daily, Police Chief Susan Ballard said that the overwhelming majority of people who violate the COVID emergency orders are residents.

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However, the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) is also taking steps to make sure visitors are complying.

While HPD does not keep separate data on how many tourists and residents have been cited, Police Chief Ballard points out that warnings and citations have been up for over a month–well before tourism reopened on Oct. 15.

Ballard says that since Sept. 20, HPD has given 33,000 warnings and 3,100 citations.

“So as you can see, our concern is just as much with the residents as it is as the visitors because residents are obviously not abiding by the rules,” said Ballard.

She says HPD has worked out a system where officers can keep track of violators who have been warned because those are recorded, so officers can then check with dispatch.

“So if they had been warned before, then obviously they definitely have not been listening. They may end up with a citation or possible arrest,” said Ballard.

Among the thousands of passengers arriving daily, some are returning residents.

Ballard says that HPD also wants to step up enforcement on locals and visitors by checking up on vacation rentals and those staying with family and friends. She emphasizes that the information entered by travelers in the Safe Travels App has to be accurate.

“We really have been trying to work with the state to make sure that the information that’s inputted into that app is correct and it’s viable information,” said Ballard.

She says that most of the violations are for not wearing a mask or holding large gatherings.

Moving forward, she would like state lawmakers to change the law and allow officers to give out fines on the spot, similar to parking violations, instead of requiring a court appearance.

“We’d really like to see at the next legislative session to at least give law enforcement the option. If it’s a minor type of thing then leave it as a fine. I think that’s probably one of the biggest takeaways we’ve learned from this,” she said.

She adds that hotels in general have done a good job of educating the visitors, especially the large properties because they’re adequately staffed with security. She says HPD will be working with the smaller hotels to improve enforcement.

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