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Quarantine order starts Thursday for people entering Hawaii

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency director, discusses the new quarantine mandate Saturday afternoon at a Honolulu press conference. The Maui News screenshot

Gov. David Ige on Saturday afternoon announced a 14-day quarantine mandate for visitors and residents arriving to Hawaii via all modes of travel effective Thursday until further notice.

The announcement came the same day state coronavirus positive or presumptive cases jumped from 37 to 48, including two new cases — up from five to seven — on Maui, state health officials said.

The mandatory self-quarantine will begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

For residents, the designated quarantine will be at their homes; for visitors, it will be their place of lodging. Individuals will be able to leave their quarantined areas only to seek medical care or for medical emergencies. Only authorized visitors will be allowed at the quarantine locations. Pilots and airline staff are exempt.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency director, said all visitors and residents coming through the state’s airports will be required to fill out a state Department of Agriculture form distributed in-flight. The form includes information on mandatory requirements for the 14-day quarantine and penalties of violation.

Once they arrive, people will go through a checkpoint and present the completed form with valid identification. Checkpoint staff will validate the form and issue clearance certification.

County mayors are in charge of enforcement, Ige said, and violations will be treated as a misdemeanor, which carry a maximum $5,000 fine, one year in jail or both.

“We had conversation with county mayors, and the county mayors will be enforcing action in each county,” Ige said during the Honolulu press conference. “There are lots of things that will be required.”

Maui County’s Office of the Mayor did not immediately reply to a request Saturday evening about Kahului Airport enforcement.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell hailed the mandate, saying it’s the first in the nation of its kind.

“It’s an extraordinary one,” he said.

One of the reasons it’s not being implanted immediately is to give residents and visitors time to adjust their travel plans. Ige said he anticipates people will take action to cancel or reschedule trips. Also, residents have a small window to return home before quarantine is implemented.

When the governor recently requested that tourists postpone their trips, state officials said they saw a 67 percent drop in bookings.

“This order will dramatically reduce the amount of people coming to Hawaii,” Ige said.

President and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association Mufi Hannemann said that the association stands behind the governor’s actions even though it will have a major impact on the visitor industry.

“The more we delay the more we will have to pay with human suffering, human lives,” he said.

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