Mayor Caldwell looks to boost COVID enforcement, which state auditor finds insufficient

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The enforcement of quarantine rules for visitors that don’t have a negative COVID-19 test, or haven’t taken a test, will be difficult. That’s according to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

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State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz tells KHON2 there are 14,494 people in quarantine right now. Mayor Caldwell said that 75% of travelers coming into Oahu have a pre-test and 25% don’t and are subject to quarantine.

He met with the Honolulu Police Department and hotel security staff on Wednesday to enhance enforcement.

“Just having the police do it, and the good news is the hotel guys are stepping up and they’re calling up to rooms to make sure people are there three times a day,” Mayor Caldwell said. “If they don’t answer the phone they’re calling the room phone, not the cell phone, and they’re knocking on the door.”

Lokahi Keama, who is the Security Chief of the Hawaiian Monarch in Waikiki, says that visitors are required to show the hotel proof of a negative COVID-19 test via the state’s Safe Travels app. The security department does not have access to the list of quarantined visitors on the app. Keama thinks that it makes it more difficult to keep track and enforce.

Angela Keen of the group Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers says that the Attorney General’s Office, who is in charge of enforcement on Oahu, should play a bigger role.

“Really the folks that were managing this well all this time were the Attorney General’s Office,” Keen said. “They don’t have the manpower, but they have the knowledge and the expertise to work on quarantine breakers. They’re complicated cases. It’s not like you can just hand out a citation.”

Hawaii, Maui and Kauai County Police are responsible for enforcing quarantine rules. Last week, state auditor Les Kondo said, “Law enforcement agencies likely do not have sufficient personnel to effectively monitor compliance.”

In regards to the Safe Travels app requiring check-in’s, Kondo said it “can be answered from any location, doing little to verify that travelers are indeed self-quarantining.”

Keen believes this issue can be resolved with the recommendations that the auditor set forth.

“There were lots of recommendations in there.” Keen said. “One of them was quarantine hotels and a task force, and those are the two things that I fully support. I think it’s really important because those quarantine folks should not be mixed up with the people who went through and did things right and got their tests in there free and clear.”

Kondo also found that state and county agencies aren’t working together on enforcement, and the program lacks a single person in charge of oversight.

The Auditor’s entire report can be read here.

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