In Hawaii, breaking quarantine could mean jail time

In Hawaii, breaking quarantine could mean jail time

If you think that “mandatory quarantine” means “lightly suggested period of slightly heightened social distancing” that isn’t actually enforceable, you’re wrong. Hawaii requires a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone visiting the state, and violations of that rule could result in jail time.

On April 30, 2020, according to local authorities, a California couple on their honeymoon ignored the requirement to remain in their hotel room, and after several warnings by hotel staff, were arrested by police. A few days earlier, on April 28, another couple was similarly arrested by Honolulu police after breaking quarantine. Once hotel staff noticed them returning to their room with shopping bags and takeout food, they alerted the authorities.

New arrivals to Hawaii are required to fill out documentation listing their contact and lodging information, and acknowledge that violating quarantine is a criminal offense punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to one year in prison.

A Hawaii hotel manager told CNN, “Our guests receive periodic calls from state health officials, the police, and hotel staff, to make sure they are actually in their rooms. Some of our hotels are issuing one-time keys, which allow a guest to enter their room upon check-in, but don’t allow reentry. For first-time offenders, our staff will escort them back to their rooms. If they leave again, we call the police.”

Lt. Audra Sellers of the Maui Police Department said, “Our initial goal is to educate people. Our efforts are meant to keep people safe and stop them from spreading the virus. If they’ve been warned, and do it again, we arrest them.”

The mandatory 14-day quarantine for incoming out-of-state visitors will be required until July 31. The same quarantine was applied to people traveling in-between islands, though that was lifted on June 15.

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