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Hawaii News | Lee Cataluna

Lee Cataluna: Who comes to Hawaii to self-quarantine?

  • BRUCE ASATO / APRIL 30
                                Hawaii’s quarantine order was put in place without any solid plan of how to enforce it. Travelers arriving from Los Angeles waited curbside for pickup last week at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

    BRUCE ASATO / APRIL 30

    Hawaii’s quarantine order was put in place without any solid plan of how to enforce it. Travelers arriving from Los Angeles waited curbside for pickup last week at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

Any tourist who flies to Hawaii right now and promises at the airport to strictly obey the 14-day quarantine is lying, at least a little bit.

Regardless of whether they are or not, that has to be the assumption. For the last month, Hawaii has just pretty much been taking people at their word.

No offense. Nothing personal. Not saying every tourist is a liar. But it is hard to imagine that anyone would come to vacation in Hawaii with no plans to leave their hotel room at all for two weeks.

Seriously, who packs a bag, sits on a flight for five hours or more to get to these faraway beautiful islands and then holes up in a room for two weeks straight with no sunset walks, no jaunts to the beach, no road trips out to the food trucks? Who is going to spend money to get to Hawaii just to watch in-room movies and eat room-service burgers for 14 days?

They all may be saying, “Yes, yes, we are not going ANYWHERE for two weeks” to the stern-look­ing folks at the airport. They may be initialing the form agreeing to “comply with any and all rules or protocols related to your quarantine as set forth by your hotel or rented lodging.” At the same time, they may be harboring plans of slipping out to freedom and selfies and Instagram-bragging about breaking the rules.

Local law enforcement has publicized the most egregious cases, releasing mug shots of the inconsiderate quarantine-breakers who put their own fun over the health and safety of Hawaii’s community. But the quarantine order was put in place without any solid plan of how to rigorously enforce it.

To be sure, there are other people who are arriving on flights to Hawaii who don’t fall into the category of vacationers wanting to take advantage of the pandemic. Some are coming for essential work or are students coming back from school.

Some are local residents coming home. Maybe some dutifully stay in their quarters the whole time they’re here. The thing is, we don’t know for sure. Calling their cellphones to check where they are is about as effective as calling a teen’s cellphone to check that they’re really studying in the library — reliable only if you’re dealing with an honest person.

Hawaii has become a lure for thrill seekers, the same tourists who want to pose for pics by the spewing lava even though no one is supposed to be walking around spewing lava. They’re the ones who blast past “no parking” and “no hiking” signs at Stairway to Heaven or Mauna­wili Falls.

The thrill is seeing how much you can get away with and brag about on social media. It takes only one asymptomatic carrier coming into the islands to start up the bad numbers again and undo all the hard work and sacrifice Hawaii put in to contain COVID-19.

When the quarantine is lifted and tourism starts to come back again, no doubt visitors will be welcomed back to the islands with open arms. But those will be the folks who were good enough to wait until Hawaii was ready for guests, not the ones who saw an opportunity to get away with something.


Reach Lee Cataluna at 529-4315 or lcataluna@staradvertiser.com.


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