HONOLULU (NewsNation Now) — For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Hawaii is welcoming travelers back to the islands with new travel guidelines and a group dedicated to catching quarantine breakers beginning Thursday.
Since the start of the pandemic, tourists arriving in Hawaii have been required to immediately quarantine for two weeks. Now travelers can avoid the two-week quarantine with a pre-travel testing program, but they must provide proof they’ve test negative for COVID-19 within the last 72 hours.
Hawaii officials said the recent lack of tourism has been detrimental to the state’s economy. Now they’re expecting up to 3,000 visitors a day with the new guidelines. As a result, the state is putting more rules in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The “Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers” is one of the enforcers. The group of more than 6,500 people helps law enforcement catch those who refuse to follow the rules and break quarantine.
Officials believe that not all travelers will use the pre-travel testing program. So the group will be using social media to monitor visitors they suspect are breaking quarantine.
“We have an enormous team of people, all ready and waiting to help Hawaii stay safe,” said Angela Keen with Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers.
Keen said the new testing program should make it easier for them and officials to find quarantine violators.
“It’s probably going to be easier because if we’re going to report on someone, all I have to do is check with my contact with the attorney general’s office,” said Keen. “If that person’s name is on the list, and they know that they’re going to be watched, there won’t be a couple of thousand people in question. There’s going to be maybe 100 or so.”
Health officials also said they’re adding 200 contact tracers to their team helping fight travel-related infections, raising the total to 500.
They said they’re spending $30 million on more tests and testing equipment. All passengers 5 years old and over must test negative to avoid quarantine. Children under age 5 are not required to take a test.
“Get the right test,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green said. “Get the test from a trusted partner and follow the instructions on our website, HawaiiCOVID19.com.”
Once the test results are received, the traveler needs to upload negative test results to the Safe Travels website 24-hours before departure to get their QR code. Each traveler must have a valid email and must have a QR code to expedite the verification process when they arrive in Hawaii.
Upon arrival, travelers will have their temperature taken as soon as they exit the airplane.
“Anybody with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and above, will be pulled aside for additional medical screening,” said Tim Sakahara, of the Hawaii Department of Transportation
People who violate emergency orders and break quarantine have the option to return home through a program where airlines waive or discount flight change fees. It has already helped return 300 visitors.
NewsNation affiliate KHON contributed to this report.