The pandemic is prompting Hawaii’s authorities to consider some extreme measures to contain the spread of contagion. The Aloha State was among the earliest to adopt some aggressive policies to curb COVID-19 transmission on the islands and already requires all arrivals, be they visitors or returning residents, to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Hawaii News Now has reported that state authorities are considering using personal tracking devices to ensure compliance with the rules of quarantine. Failure to comply with the conditions set forth by the governor’s office already bears a hefty penalty—a fine of up to $5,000, a year in prison, or both.
State Attorney General, Clare Connors, told the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 that she’s exploring the legality of such ideas about tracking visitors and the constitutional concerns that would be raised by such actions.
“I think it runs the gamut of what they’re doing in Taiwan, which is you wear an ankle bracelet for fourteen days and if it goes outside your hotel room, it pings and that’s the only information that gets conveyed to the 24/7 GPS where we know exactly where you are, what you’re doing at all times,” said Connors.
Attorney Victor Bakke agreed that GPS tracking could pose potential problems. Forcing people to lock themselves down would already be considered a rights violation, he explained, but for the motivations behind it: the current public health crisis and larger concern for the safety of all Hawaii residents.
The outlet reported that, in recent days, visitors to Hawaii who were found to be in violation of the mandatory quarantine order have been cited, arrested and even deported back to the mainland.
Despite deterrents, about 100 visitors continue to arrive in Hawaii each day. Lawmakers reportedly argue that online travel sites are failing to sufficiently inform people about the state quarantine order while displaying cheap airfares and room rates. “It just says your travel may be impacted,” said State Senator, Donna Mercado Kim. “If you go to Trivago, it just says the outbreak may impact your travel plans.”
Arrivals are currently required to complete a questionnaire, supplying contact information and indicating their designated quarantine location (home or rented lodgings). Senate President, Ronald Kouchi, has called upon Hawaii Governor, David Ige, to adopt more intensive health screenings at airports and proposed that tourists even be escorted from the airport to their hotels.
The Winglet reported that Hawaiian authorities have recently begun more strictly enforcing quarantine policies, verifying mobile phone numbers before visitors leave the airport and cross-referencing addresses listed on their quarantine forms with property tax records.
For more information, visit health.hawaii.gov/coronavirusdisease2019/#situation.
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