Cmte. on COVID-19 makes recommendations to improve passenger quarantine enforcement procedures

Hawai‘i State Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 makes recommendations to improve passenger quarantine enforcement procedures

The Hawai‘i State Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 issued a report today with recommendations to improve passenger quarantine enforcement procedures, following an oversight visit to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and discussions with the Attorney General, Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), and the State Department of Transportation (DOT) officials.

DOT Director Jade Butay, and Deputy Director Ross Higashi and Administrative Services Officer Ford Fuchigami (both Airports Division) updated the committee on its current process for disembarking passengers, including the necessary Department of Agriculture, HTA, and interisland declaration forms.

The committee indicated its intentions to work with the impacted departments to ensure that these forms could be updated to collect further information that it believes will help to close gaps in the current screening and enforcement. This would include, among other updates, additional information to allow the DOT and HTA to verify the dates of departures for visitors.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA) confirmed that they would be working with DOT and HTA to make adjustments to its forms.

HTA CEO Chris Tatum indicated that the agency is working with stakeholders to contract a database application to more efficiently gather, sort, and store the information currently collected through its forms and the state’s Safe Travelers app. The database would be searchable, and access would be provided to all law enforcement agencies.

Current cost projections for this application are $26,000 and will be paid by the HTA, then reimbursed by HIEMA with CARES Act funding.

Attorney General Clare Connors also provided an update on state and county procedures for the enforcement of the state’s 14-day quarantine, including specific cases of violations.

Citing her presentation, the Special Committee requested that her office consider moving towards immediate fines, in an effort to strengthen the deterrence for violations. The committee also requested that the AG consider levying fines on hotels and homeowners tied to violations of the quarantine order.

The committee also conveyed enforcement suggestions, some of which have come through proposals from the public. One such example is to have hotels withhold room keys, so visitors are unable to come-and-go without alerting hotel staff. Both the AG and HTA indicated that they believed such an approach would be legally sound under the current requirements of the 14-day quarantine and would aid in the enforcement of the order.

Additionally, the committee suggested that visitors be barred from renting cars during the quarantine period. The AG stated that she believes that suggestion would also be legally sound under the Governor’s proclamation.

The committee added that similar exemptions related to essential workers could be built into that order.

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