A small flow of visitors is still coming into the state, despite onerous emergency orders and high-profile arrests of violators.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported today that 488 trans-Pacific passengers arrived on Tuesday, including 139 visitors and 171 residents. The count also included 108 airline crew members, 19 transit passengers who are catching other flights and 38 intended new residents for Oahu and 13 for Kona.
Hawaii residents were the largest category comprising 35% of the total. Visitors, which made up 28% of the traffic, included everyone with an out-of-state ID who plans to leave Hawaii after a period of time. Intended residents are those with out-of-state IDs who say they plan to stay here. The intended residents category might include military personnel, college students, people moving to Hawaii to live with their families, and homeless individuals.
In the 27 days since the quarantine began, some 3,542 visitors have arrived. That’s an average of more than 128 passengers a day who are visitors.
To be sure, that’s significantly less than the more than 30,000 passengers who were arriving daily in Hawaii at this time last year. But some members of the community still think the counts are too high.
Some visitors coming to the state probably plan to abide by the state’s 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for all arriving trans-Pacific passengers, which Gov. David Ige ordered implemented on March 26 to cut travel demand and protect Hawaii’s resources due to COVID-19. He expanded the quarantine to interisland flights on April 1.
Essential travelers, especially healthcare workers and first responders, weren’t the target of the emergency orders. But those coming for leisure or to quarantine in Hawaii are drawing community ire since Ige asked them to stop coming before instituting the quarantines. And, lately there has been little tolerance for leisure travelers who don’t respect the rules.
Tourism and law enforcement officials are sending rule breakers home. Law enforcement officials sent Aarona Browning- Lopez, 37, back to Los Angeles on Friday after she violated COVID-19 emergency rules. Officials allowed Browning-Lopez to enter Hawaii despite only providing a post office box for an address. Law enforcement later arrested Browning-Lopez after getting complaints from the community that she was trying to set up a tent on the side of a road.
On Tuesday, Kimberly Kim Tien, a 34-year-old visitor from Las Vegas, and Edwin Htun, a 33-year-old visitor from Sydney, were arrested after a hotel manager turned them in for violating emergency rules. Tien’s Instagram posts showed that she had left her Waikiki hotel room before she had completed her quarantine. Special agents from the Attorney General’s Office also procured records that showed that the pair repeatedly left their room.
The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, which works with law enforcement and the Hawaii Tourism Authority, has helped at least 19 visitors, who were not prepared to undergo the 14-day quarantine, get back home.
At this time last year, more than 30,000 passengers were arriving daily in Hawaii. In the 27 days since the quarantine began, some 3,542 visitors have arrived. That’s an average of more than 128 passengers a day who are visitors.