Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers has helped to identify more than 70 violators of the 14-day mandatory quarantine, leading to fines and arrests. The group, run by former tv journalist Angela Keen, formed during statewide lockdown in March, and now has over 6,000 members, who share tips and information through a private Facebook page.
“We work quietly, we build a digital file,” Keen explained this morning on Spotlight Hawaii. “I put the file together, we send it off to the AG’s office, and their lead special investigator reviews it. And then he goes out and gets his team, and they go out and they investigate. Usually within 48-72 hours, we have a quarantine breaker arrested.
Keen now works full time managing the group, which is represented on every island across the state. She said group members gather information about possible quarantine violators, and then turn that information over to law enforcement. Group members do not personally confront potential violators, but leave that to the authorities. Keen likens the group to a neighborhood or community watch, aiding law enforcement to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Almost all of our members are executives, professionals, hard workers in the tourism in the tourism industry, from baggage handlers all the way up to the managers of the hotels,” Keen said.
“I think they felt in the very beginning that they didn’t have a voice and they didn’t have anywhere to send their information to.”
The Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers Facebook group is private, with new members able to join by referral only. Those who do not want to join the Facebook page but still want to report a possible violation can email email@example.com.
Keen said her group is also working to enforce the current mask mandate. Unlike with suspected quarantine violators, when group members see people unmasked, they approach with a mask and a message.
“All we do is hand a mask, hand a flyer and say, ‘This is a mandate. This is what’s going on right now, We need your kokua, we need your help to mask up,’” she said.
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Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations.