HONOLULU (KHON2) — It starts with a morning knock by officers. When the door opens, agents expect to see visitors following COVID-19 quarantine orders.
Special agents with the attorney general’s investigation division and the Department of Transportation Harbor Police visited three hotels in Waikiki to verify that the two week-quarantine order is being followed by tourists.
The agents said that most people were inside their rooms. But Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers, a community group that monitors those in quarantine, keeps getting calls to alert them about violators.
The administrator of the group, Angela Keen, said that the reports have slowed down lately. But on Friday, Sept. 18, they got a higher volume of reports than usual.
“I’m glad to hear that there were many that were in their rooms,” Keen said. “But today’s been pretty much a crazy day as far as reports go. I received seven reports within a matter of hours within the same hotel and you know workers are getting frustrated.”
The state agents knocked on 95 hotel doors and they only found two rooms unoccupied.
Keen said that many of the calls to Kapu Breakers come from hotel workers. She said the reports vary from people trying to bribe a taxi driver to take them off the property to guests ignoring hotel staff about the quarantine orders still in place.
She said, “I suspect because Hawaii made the announcement that it will open up on October 15 and it will start using tests, which is great, that people started getting bold, and that prices for flights are probably very cheap.”
Keen has a suspicion that visitors are trying to get last-minute deals on flights before airlines begin to increase ticket prices.
Agents made similar rounds earlier this month in two Waikiki hotels. They found no violations.
“This is something that’s unprecedented to have this many visits in that amount of time, checking on these tourists and making sure that they are staying in their quarantine location,” Keen said.
Keen said the Kapu Breakers group will continue its work even after October 15, once the pre-travel testing program takes effect. The group supports the COVID-19 testing program for visitors but calls for a second round of testing once they arrive.
Hotel staff, or hosts, that knowingly fail to inform authorities of quarantine breakers also face fines of up to $5,000 or no more than a year in prison or both.
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