HONOLULU (KHON2) — Despite the state’s ongoing mandatory quarantine, there was a big jump in visitor numbers over the weekend.
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, 1,701 visitors arrived in the state between Aug. 1-2, 2020.
On Sunday, 713 visitors came in, 1,083 residents, and 257 said they were relocating to Hawaii.
This comes as Hawaii considers more restrictions on gatherings and at beaches.
The group Hawaii Kapu Quarantine Breakers said they are getting reports of people violating quarantine on an hourly basis, and they want to help state and county officials fix the loopholes.
“One of the biggest loopholes are exemptions, and they are being handed out like candy,” explained Hawaii Kapu Quarantine Breakers administrator Angela Keen. “We have exempt workers going on vacations to the mainland and using that. It’s just there’s every work around for everything, and we need to get a handle on it.”
She said her group has expanded to all islands.
On Sunday, her Maui group assisted with a large beach gathering that took place at Makena State Beach Park at an area referred to as ‘Little Beach.’
“That was because of the ‘drum circle,’” Keen explained. “We all know those gatherings were part of a cluster of parties and COVID-19, and all kinds of things so residents on Maui are really getting concerned.”
She said social media influencers are also coming into Hawaii and profiting off of breaking quarantine.
“They’re posting a month later saying ‘ha, ha, ha to you Hawaii.’ We just saw that recently with the trampoline at Haiku stairs,” Keen said. “They’re all profiting off of Hawaii by posting videos that say, ‘We were in Hawaii, we broke quarantine we did all this stuff,’ and they post it on Youtube and they earn a couple thousands bucks off of it. Hawaii has come out to be a joke in all of this.”
Another loophole she said officials need to crack down on is visitors coming to Oahu and then island hopping a few days later. She said visitors will stay at a hotel for a day or two and then check out and head to a neighbor island.
“Once you’re on a neighbor island flight, you’re not a tourist anymore, you’re a resident, and you’re treated as a resident, they’re not checking if you’ve quarantined,” she said. “The couple that was busted last week from Utah is a perfect example of what’s been happening. They get a ticket to Oahu, they stay in a hotel, they get checked out and the hotel says ‘Yes, they are here,’ and the guest checks out one or two days later, and they go to the neighbor islands scot-free, as if they completed quarantine and they haven’t.”
Keen said she would like county officials to reach out to her group for assistance in helping capture quarantine breakers. She said if the state doesn’t get a handle on it, then “Hawaii is going to be like Florida, Texas, California or New York.”
“I would recommend that those who are making the decision get on the ground like we are,” said Keen. “They did the airport surveillance. They watch what they’re doing at the airport. But they’re not at the hotels or the AirBnB’s, the illegal AirBnB’s, and they’re not seeing what’s happening on the other side when that tourist or local person returns and ends up at their home or residence.”
She said the Attorney General’s office has been doing a good job, but they have limited staffing.
“There’s only 12 or 13 investigators, if that, doing all the work for the entire island of Oahu, almost 1 million people,” she said. “They are randomly checking on people, they are checking up on every single person that we submit to them and we’re handing them the cases.”
On Tuesday, one Oahu resident will finish her 14-day quarantine after returning from California. She said she was texted twice by state officials during those two-weeks. One was before Hurricane Douglas arrived to see if she had supplies and a place to stay, but that text didn’t come until a few hours before the storm approached Oahu.
“I wish they texted us more often, or called us, or showed up at our door and said ‘hey, are you home?’ Because I feel like that would help with everything that’s going on,” said Oahu resident Tina Cohen.
She said it’s frustrating to see others breaking the rules
“It makes me so mad; I wish people would follow the rules,” she said. “We’re just trying to keep our island safe and we’re trying to keep our home safe. If you’re a tourist then respect it, and if you’re coming back home then you should know better,” she said.
Senator Donovan Dela Cruz said they’ll discuss visitors, enforcement and other topics in their next COVID-19 senate committee hearing on Thursday.