State officials are conducting compliance checks on individuals entering the state who are subject to the 14-day quarantine mandate due to COVID-19.
Gov. David Ige took questions during a Facebook Live Thursday from the community regarding concerns about enforcement of the order in place since March. Attorney General Clare Connors and Paul Jones, Deputy Chief for the Department of the Attorney General Investigations Division, were with Ige to explain in more detail the state’s efforts to ensure compliance of visitors and returning residents.
“I know that many of you are concerned as you’ve seen an increase in cases,” Ige said, adding he wanted to assure the public that the state is staying in contact with those coming into the state.
Connors and Jones went over the process of how the state tracks travelers and returning residents. It starts at the airport where travelers fill out forms providing contact information and designating their place of quarantine, get screened and sign an order indicating they understand the quarantine mandate.
“What we’re trying to do is create a safe amount of time to remain in a place where they’re not infecting others,” Connors said. “It’s a process that’s been upheld by our courts.”
Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Hawai‘i Department of Transportation make thousands of calls a day to check to see if people are compliant. A number of law enforcement agents began volunteering their time to do face-to-face checks in June.
“We are doing an incredible amount of enforcement,” Connors said. “We collect the data and that goes to law enforcement so they know who is subject to the quarantine.”
Since June 10, Jones said agents have done more than 310 compliance checks statewide. Out of those checks, only one person was arrested. The number of compliance checks depends on the agent’s current caseload, however, they try to do five to 10 per day.
If agents don’t connect with individuals on a first visit, Jones said, a follow-up visit is scheduled.
“We find that they are in a large part in their quarantine location,” he added.
Quarantine violations outside of the compliance checks have been pursued. A number of travelers have been arrested statewide for violating quarantine. Additionally, Connors said, the state has turned away 80 to 90 people at airports because they didn’t have a designated quarantine location.
“People are going to break the law and we have to accept that, but most people are being compliant,” Connors said.
Quarantine violations are opened as criminal investigations. Connors said law enforcement must collect evidence of non-compliance for the courts before it can be prosecuted.
“We appreciate all the input we receive from the community,” Connors said. “We encourage people to report it. We encourage people not to engage themselves.”
Apps and other tracking technology are under consideration to assist with compliance and keeping track of those who come into the state.