Making quarantine work to protect the communityPosted on Jul 29, 2020 in Capitol Connection, Featured
It’s the travel quarantine breakers who usually make the headlines, but the majority of returning residents and out-of-state visitors are complying with the rules, said Paul Jones, deputy chief of the Attorney General’s investigative division. He and Attorney General Clare Connors fielded questions on a July 16 Facebook Live session with Governor Ige. “Hawai‘i is one of the few states that have taken action to ensure the 14-day quarantine really means something,” said the governor.
Since the quarantine took effect in March, teams of people have been keeping tabs on returning residents and visitors through calls, texts, a SafeTravels app and in-person checks. “Enforcement of the quarantine is always going to be a challenge,” said Attorney General Connors, “but I want to reassure people that we have systems in place at every level to protect our community.” This system includes quarantine monitoring by state and county law enforcement agencies, visitor industry and Department of Transportation staff, and community members who are the lookout for quarantine breakers. Nearly 200 people have been arrested on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Maui and Hawai‘i island so far.
For face-to face compliance visits on O‘ahu, Jones and his team of special agents are deployed to different parts of the island to follow up on calls and texts to travelers. “I would say that most people do comply with the quarantine rules,” he said. “In fact, many thank us for checking on them. They know it’s incumbent on all of us to keep our community safe.” As of July 17, teams have called some 27,000 visitors and made more than 113,000 calls, texts and emails. Jones said his team had done over 350 compliance checks in the last five weeks. Both Connors and Jones emphasized that enforcement involves actual investigations and gathering evidence such as photos and videos, surveillance footage and witness testimony that will stand up in court. If a person is arrested and charged with breaking quarantine, the bail could be set at $2,000, with a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment up to one year, or both.
If people suspect a quarantine violator in their community, what steps should they take? “If you have evidence that you know someone is breaking quarantine, then call 911 non-emergency on O‘ahu and dedicated lines on the neighbor islands,” Connors said.