An effort to improve screening of non-residents arriving at Hawaii airports may include photographing them, under a plan that’s being explored by state officials, Gov. David Ige said during this morning’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser Facebook Live.
The state would likely use money it receives from the Coronavirus Aide, Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act to pay for that as well as other airport screening improvements in order to better track whether incoming visitors are complying with his 14-day quarantine order, Ige said.
Visitors are supposed to register where they are staying digitally on a state website, Ige said. While they are required to provide their names and identification, “we don’t have photo, so we are talking about capturing that (and) when in the screening process we would be able to do that.”
“We are thinking about different things that can allow us to do a better job,” the governor said. “One of the challenges is we’re not capturing a photo of them, right, so we know if someone has broken quarantine. So we don’t have a photo that we distribute and have people help us identify who they are.”
Part of the frustration is that visitors may be coming from U.S. mainland states that don’t have quarantine orders in place so some wrongly assume the same rules apply here, Ige said.
Some of the airlines are doing a good job informing those who book flights to Hawaii about the specifics of the quarantine order also but others have refused, he said.
The governor said he is asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to establish a standard minimum penalty of a $2,000 fine for anyone who violates quarantine orders.
Visitors need to understand “this is a public health emergency and them being out and about is a risk to our community and our quarantine is real and they need to abide by it,” he said.
Ige said he expects standard interisland travel to be allowed in the next two to six weeks, depending on how the infection rate progresses.
The state Legislature is reconvening this week and the most significant responsibility lawmakers have will be to give him the OK to borrow up to $2 billion low interest loans from the U.S. Treasury and to exceed the state’s existing debt ceiling in order to spend the additional funds.
“That’s an important option we want to have,” Ige said. “We want to avoid layoffs, we want to avoid reducing salaries of our public servants so to have the ability to borrow from the Treasury may become very important but I need to have authorization from the Legislature in order for me to do that.”
Allowing him to exceed the debt ceiling will require two-thirds of each of the houses to say “yes,” Ige said.