Incoming visitors on Thursday rose to their highest count since Hawaii started tourism lockdowns.
The count preceded a warning from state officials that visitors and residents should keep their guard up over the Memorial Day weekend.
Many of the state’s beaches, parks, trails and other outside spaces are now open. But health officials and state leaders are urging those that visit them to maintain social distancing, wear masks while around others, and continue to wash hands frequently.
“As you remember the sacrifices of our service members and celebrate graduates this weekend, please remember to have fun safely. Connect with friends and loved ones in ways that protect yourselves, your loved ones and our community. We’re all in this together and can keep our success going if we remind each other to keep up with safe practices,” Gov. David Ige said in a statement.
Some 363 out-of-state visitors came to Hawaii on Thursday, making up 30% of the 1,203 total incoming passengers, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
As many as 72% or 262 of the visitors who came to Hawaii said they were coming at least in part to visit friends or family. About 6% of visitors or 20 said they were coming to Hawaii to vacation. Another 41 or 11% gave business as one of their reasons for traveling.
The count also included 332 returning residents, 140 airline crew members, 75 military personnel, 111 people relocating to Hawaii and 151 transit passengers that were catching planes to other locations. As many as 17 trans-Pacific flights arrived on Thursday.
Also 31 people who arrived had been granted exemptions to the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine that began March 26 for trans-Pacific passengers and was extended to include interisland passengers on April 1. Currently, the quarantines run through June 30.
Prior to Thursday, the highest count of arriving visitors were the 309 that came on Monday. Before the quarantine about 30,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily.
Even so, state lawmakers have become increasingly concerned about rising visitor counts. They’ve been working with the state Department of Transportation, local law enforcement and zoning officials, the state Attorney General’s Office and the visitor industry to close quarantine loopholes.
Officials also are encouraging locals to obey emergency orders, which still prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people. Also, six feet of social distance is required unless those gathered are members of the same family.
A large group of teenagers were caught flouting safety regulations yesterday at Maunalua Bay. They weren’t practicing social distancing and their boats were less than 20-feet apart.
Dr. Bruce Anderson, state Department of Health Administrator said in a statement, “Please, please, if you have young people in your family, talk to them about how important social distancing is right now. The last thing anyone wants to happen is to have an asymptomatic family member infect aunty or uncle, grandmother or grandfather.”
There aren’t very many visitors in Hawaii right now, but state and local government are keeping a close watch over them.
Misty Lynn Beutler, a 51-year-old Moorpark, Calif. resident, was arrested today for violating the state’s passenger quarantine. Bail has been set at $2,000.
Beutler was arrested by Special Agents from the Investigations Division of the Department of the Attorney General after they concluded that she had left her son’s Hawaii Kai condominium several times during her mandatory 14-day quarantine period that began with her May 9th arrival.
Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors said in a statement, “We again ask all visitors and returning residents to follow both the 14-day quarantine rule and all emergency rules in place right now. In addition to my office, law enforcement agencies across the State have cited hundreds of people for emergency rules violations and have made dozens of arrests for violating the travel quarantine. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation in these efforts.”
Hawaii residents, who are hosting visitors, may soon have to sign a document making them complicit if the visitor violates the state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine order.