State says dramatic drop in arrivals as mandatory quarantine begins

Coronavirus

Thursday was day one of the mandatory quarantine policy for all passengers arriving at Hawaii’s airports. Officials say they’re already seeing a huge decline in visitors to the islands.

A viewer sent us a video using the Report It feature on our website. She says her daughter was the only one on a flight from Los Angeles to Kahului, after being quarantined in London for 14 days. She now begins another two-week quarantine in the islands.

Officials point out that Hawaii is the first state in the country to quarantine all incoming passengers. The idea is to discourage anyone from coming at all who could potentially spread the virus. The Hawaii Department of Transportation could not give exact figures but said most planes only had a few passengers.

“Measures that have been put in place are working, people are not coming to the airports and visitors are staying home. Now that the order is in effect, we anticipate that those numbers will continue to drop off,” said HDOT Spokesman Tim Sakahara.

He says the flight with the most passengers had 54 and about half of them were on a layover. Passengers were required to fill out the State Department of Agriculture form and show official ID so the information on the form could be verified.

“From there, representatives with Hawaii Tourism Authority will then process, call the hotel where the visitors are staying to give the a heads up notice that they do have quarantined passengers that are going to be on their way to that hotel,” said Sakahara.

He says random calls will be made to the hotel room to verify that the visitor is staying put. Both visitors and residents under 14-day quarantine are not allowed to leave the place where they are staying unless it’s for a medical reason. That means they have to make their own arrangements to have food brought to them. Those who violate the order risk getting fined up to $5,000 and serve up to a year in prison.

“With cooperation of all counties, we do have a quarantine system where we can ID those who are outside of the quarantine and certainly we will be taking action as necessary,” said Gov. David Ige.

The governor stressed that the coming weeks are critical in fighting COVID-19, and could determine if our healthcare system becomes overwhelmed.

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