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Hawaii is cracking down on rogue tourists who refuse to adhere to the state's strict requirements that they quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, with some visiting beaches, shopping and generally flouting social distancing guidelines.
At least 20 people have been arrested across the state for violating quarantine measures, while others have been cited or warned.
Some visitors have been spotted at hotel swimming pools, buying groceries and ordering take out food to bring back to hotel rooms. A newlywed couple from California was recently arrested for leaving their hotel room despite receiving warnings from staff to stay indoors.
Hawaii reported 626 COVID-19 cases, including 17 deaths as of Thursday, according to the state Department of Health. While the infection rate is relatively low among states, Hawaii has enacted the strictest measures in the U.S. by far.
“The people that are coming don’t care about us," said Honolulu City Councilmember Kym Pine. "They’re coming to Hawaii on the cheap and they obviously could care less whether they get the virus or not. So they obviously could care less about that mom and dad who have no job and no food.”
Pine wants travelers tracked via their cellphones or tested for the virus before boarding planes to the state.
Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, announced last month that anyone caught flouting social distancing measures could face up to $5,000 in fines and a year in prison. Messages to the state attorney general's office and the Honolulu Police Department were not immediately returned.
Borice Lepovskiy, 20, and Yuliia Andreichenko, 26, the newlyweds from Citrus Heights, Calif., said they were told by hotel staff that it was permitted to visit friends and the beach. Authorities said the couple refused to sign a quarantine agreement when they checked in.
They were arrested one morning while returning to their room.
Another California man was seen on personal watercraft off Oahu's North Shore when he was supposed to be in quarantine. Leif Anthony Johansen, 60, of Truckee, Calif., was followed by agents from the state attorney general's office and arrested while loading groceries into his vehicle.
Adam Schwarze, 36, who police said lives on Oahu, and his travel companion, Desiree Marvin, 31, of Alexandria, Va., were ultimately arrested in the parking lot of a grocery store.
The pandemic has devasted Hawaii's tourism industry. Around 5,000 visitors have arrived since March 26, when social distancing rules were enacted. Prior to that, around 30,000 visitors arrived to the state daily.
“I am, quite frankly, quite surprised that people would still want to come because this is not the Hawaii that you’ve dreamed about, that you want to experience,” said Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.
"There's a lot of attractions that are closed. Everyone is walking around with masks. You know, we're just not going to demonstrate that spirit of aloha that you've heard so much about," he added. "So to me, it's just crazy for someone to still want to come here."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.