Officers continue enforcement efforts

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii County and Maui County have seen an uptick in cases recently.

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Earlier this month, both Maui Mayor Michael Victorino and Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim limited gatherings to 10 people or less.

So far, Maui Police Department (MPD) said some residents have been following the rules, but their biggest issue has been quarantine violators and residents renting out illegal vacation rentals.

“They’re taking trips that are less expensive, the flights aren’t as full, and people are coming here and saying they don’t know about the 14-day quarantine, so we are getting a lot of violations for that,” explained MPD Lt. Audra Sellers.

Since the pandemic began in March through the end of July, MPD has issued 1,065 citations.

Lt. Sellers said since the end of June, 54 people have been arrested for violating either Governor David Ige, or Mayor Victorino’s proclamations and 14 people have been arrested over the last two months on Maui for violating the state’s 14-day quarantine.

“If they don’t have a ticket to return home, we get them back and sent back, if they don’t have a place to stay, they’re sent back,” explained Lt. Sellers. “We’re asking for people’s compliance, people know when they’re coming to Hawaii there’s a quarantine in effect, the airline lets you know.”

Lt. Sellers said they’ve seen an uptick in non-emergency COVID-related calls and asked Maui residents to e-mail their quarantine e-mail for enforcement violations to mpdquarantine@mpd.net

“We’ve had several complaints come in about those ‘drum circles’ and illegal parking and things like that so our community police officers have been addressing that, and our patrol officers have increased their patrols out there,” she explained.

Last week, Mayor Victorino said he may impose new restrictions this week, but announced on Monday that he will wait to see what the numbers are in the coming days. He said the current cases on Maui are contained to healthcare or long-term care facilities.

If and when Mayor Victorino announces restrictions, Lt. Sellers said it’s too soon to say if MPD will issue warnings or citations to violators.

“People should know better now to help slow the spread,” she said.  “I hope they don’t put us in that situation where we have to go out and enforce that.”

“Hopefully these people understand that community spread is real, and you don’t want to get this,” said Lt. Sellers.

Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim said Hawaii Island Police will make sure people are adhering to wearing masks, not gathering in large groups, and keeping a safe distance from others.

“Those are the three things we can control to help minimize the spread of this virus,” said Mayor Kim. “And it’s quite obvious looking at the community of Hilo, we got very lax on that for whatever reason.”

“Somehow, we put our guards down when we think we’re okay, and all it takes is one to keep spreading it,” he continued.

He said arresting people for violating the rules isn’t ideal, “the idea is to remind people in a good way that this is a community-issue and the only way we’re going to get ahead of it is for people to pay attention to those things of control,” Kim said.

Honolulu Police Department said they’ve been receiving 130 calls and e-mails daily on their COVID-19 hotline.

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