Coronavirus spurs Hawaii to take 'extreme action,' quarantine all arrivals for 14 days

FILE - General view of the Waikiki beach shoreline. ( Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage )

All visitors and returning residents to Hawaii will be required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine starting on Thursday in what the state's governor called an "extreme action" on Saturday needed to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the state's majority of COVID-19 cases so far are linked to travel, which makes it "critical" to mitigate the spread of the virus by those arriving from out of state.

The state announced 11 new cases of people with coronavirus, bringing Hawaii's total to 48 as of Sunday. Three of them are hospitalized, according to Hawaii News Now.

“These actions are extreme, but they will help flatten the curve and lay the groundwork for a quicker recovery," Ige said Saturday. "We need everyone to comply with these quarantine orders to help protect Hawaii’s residents."

In an interview on Fox News, Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green, who is also an emergency room physician, said Saturday that Hawaii's full-time population is only 1.4 million, while the tourist population balloons that number to near 10 million.

Green warned there are only 561 ventilators and 2,000 hospital beds total in the state.

Ige's order, which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, will only apply to incoming flights that are coming from out of state. Inter-island travel will not be affected.

The governor's office said returning residents must quarantine themselves at home, while visitors must quarantine themselves in their hotel room or rented lodging.

People under quarantine may only leave their homes for medical emergencies or to seek medical care, the governor's office said. Those under the 14-day quarantine cannot visit public spaces such as pools, fitness centers or restaurants.

“You may leave your designated quarantine for medical emergencies or to seek medical care,” Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Director Kenneth Hara told reporters. “If the traveler becomes ill with a fever or cough they are to continue to stay in their designated quarantine location and avoid contact with others.”

In order to keep track of all incoming travelers, Hara said incoming travelers will have to fill out a mandatory agricultural form prior to landing and have their information verified, including where they will be staying and their phone number, KHON2 reported.

Failure to follow the order is a misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both, the governor's office said.

Ige was asked why he wasn't instituting a shelter-in-place order like other states have, to which he said that could eventually come if the virus continues to spread in Hawaii.

“Mandatory staying in your homes is an extreme measure that we may implement here,” the governor said. “But it really is appropriate when there is widespread community spread of the virus.”

The U.S. Army announced a soldier with the 25th Infantry Battalion based in Hawaii tested positive for coronavirus, the first case linked to the Army community in the state, Hawaii News Now reported. The soldier is in isolation.

As visitors are still making trips to Hawaii, residents have shared growing frustrations about tourists still going to beaches, even as local officials have shut down state parks and county beach parks.

Residents told KHON2 as families are self-isolating themselves, visitors are still coming into their communities.

“People are frustrated, they don’t want the visitors here, it’s a threat to them,” Raquel Hill, a North Shore Neighborhood Board member on Oahu, told KHON2.

“Clearly the visitors are not compliant. Last night on the news everyone saw them going under the caution tape and going to the beach. Social distancing? Okay, they’re in the water together. How’s that working?”