The state attorney general told the Hawaii Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 Friday that even after Hawaii reopens for tourism, there’s likely to be a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for a while.
“Before the 14-day quarantine, we saw large numbers of people. After the 14-day quarantine was imposed, we saw many, many fewer people coming into the state,” Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors said. “I think what I hear from (Hawaii Emergency Management Agency), Gen. (Kenneth) Hara and Governor (David Ige) we are going to be keeping the 14-day quarantine in place for a while.”
Connors said the 14-day quarantine, which is motivated by a health and safety crisis, meets constitutional requirements. More invasive ideas to to tighten quarantine enforcement have been brought up, but they need to be vetted, she said.
Some ideas include:
>> requiring quarantining visitors to wear ankle bracelets that ping when they leave their room;
>> employing Facebook recognition;
>> using 24/7 GPS monitoring;
>> requiring visitors to stay in designated locations, which might be guarded.
Connors said she’s having conversations with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, the state Department of Transportation and law enforcement officials about designating specific quarantine locations and supplying ankle bracelets to one or all hotels.
“As we find out this is something that we actually have the capacity to do … we are turning it around as quickly as we can,” she said. “There are a whole lot of things and an array of options to us … we are working those different teams yesterday, today and moving on to next week to address these issues.”
Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO Chris Tatum told the Senate committee that visitors to Hawaii have dramatically dropped since the 14-day quarantine began March 26. The quarantine was extended to include neighbor islands on April 1.
On Thursday, 83 visitors came into the state, which brought the count of visitors to 3,644 since the state initiated the quarantine.
Tatum said prior to the quarantine about 30,000 trans-Pacific passengers were flying into the state each day. Tourism is not likely to return to those levels with a quarantine in place, he said.
“Our normal visitors have no desire to go through this,” Tatum said.
Tatum said the quarantine is not likely to be lifted until the state has processes in place “to protect our residents and to ensure the virus is not coming.”
The Hawaii State Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 is meeting at noon to discuss the state’s pandemic plans and procedures.
The committee is scheduled to meet with: Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors; Ross Higashi, Dept. of Transportation Deputy Director, airports division; Chris Tatum, Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO; Bruce Anderson, Dept. of Health Director; Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist; and Alan Oshima, Hawaii Economic and Community Recovery and Resiliency Navigator.
The meeting is broadcasting live on ‘Olelo Channel 49 on Oahu and streaming live online at olelo.org/49. No public testimony will be accepted.