‘Safety is the guiding factor,’ says State Attorney General on quarantine rules

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii State Attorney General Clare Connors tells KHON that there have been major changes under the recent state emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said conversations and actions taken at the state level have changed to focus on safety.

“Safety is the guiding factor here and it’s the public health safety that’s different than a hurricane or from some kind of natural threat,” said Connors.

Connors said increased screening at the airport has helped. She said between 20 and 30 people have been stopped for flying here without a place to stay.

“Then when we get out into the community, I know our office, we have special agents in the Department of the Attorney General [that] have arrested a number of folks. We are upwards, I think, in double digits in terms of who we arrested,” said Connors.

However, she admits, it’s not a perfect system. There are still people determined to find new loopholes to break quarantine.

“Do people get through? Yes, people are getting through because it’s a situation, as we adapt, as we put in tighter controls, they figure ways around them,” said Connors.

One idea she said they’re looking at is to have travelers who come into the state get their photos taken and kept on record.

“We’ve already been talking to the airports about being able to scan a picture of [travelers’] photo ID and being able to include that in the documentation. That then goes to the counties, so that they know who these individuals who have come through [are] and [are] subject to the quarantine are in their communities,” said Connors.

They’re not only looking into monitoring, but compliance. A California couple recently arrested for breaking quarantine, agreed to using an ankle monitor as a condition of release.

Connors said they are trying to work with the courts to see if this can be done for all quarantine breakers in the future who ask to be released.

“[The] ankle bracelet helps us mitigate those safety concerns because we’ll be able to track the person we’ve identified if they’re violating again,” said Connors.

There is also the concern about privacy. She said there are different levels of privacy with things like GPS. For example, getting a ping if someone moves outside a quarantine zone would be a minimal level of intrusion, according to Connors. That is something that the state has to consider.

“We’ll get to this question of whether or not that’s a privacy intrusion on whatever place it falls on the spectrum that we as a community want to impose.,” said Connors.

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