Hawaii authorities are reportedly arresting tourists visiting beaches, riding jet skis, shopping and generally flouting strict requirements that they quarantine for 14 days after arriving on the island.
A newlywed California couple left their Waikiki hotel room repeatedly, despite being warned by hotel staff, and were arrested. Others have been arrested at a hotel pool, loading groceries into a vehicle outside a Costco and bringing take-out food back to a hotel room, the Associated Press reported.
But the strictest rules of a U.S. state have helped keep infections relatively low; as of Wednesday, Hawaii reported 626 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths.
Still, the shutdown has decimated the tourist-dependent islands' economy. Since March 26, when Hawaii put the rules in place, about 5,000 visitors have arrived, compared with the 30,000 who came daily before the pandemic, the AP reported.
The crisis has also driven unemployment up to between 25% to 35%, and pushed down hotel occupancy rate about 34% compared with March 2019, the AP reported.
"The people that are coming don't care about us,” Honolulu City Councilmember Kym Pine told the news agency.
“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."
While in quarantine in a hotel room or residence, people aren't allowed to leave for anything other than medical emergencies.
Honeymooners Borice Lepovskiy, 20, and Yuliia Andreichenko, 26, of Citrus Heights, Calif., paid the price for breaking the quarantine rules. After they refused to sign a quarantine agreement, and left their room, they were busted.
In another bust, a pair arrived on Kauai and were told to go directly to their hotel. Kauai police stopped them after they were seen going in the opposite direction. Still another involved Adam Schwarze, 36, who police said lives on Oahu and his travel companion, Desiree Marvin, 31, of Alexandria, Va., who were arrested in a grocery store parking lot.
“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,' Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, told the AP.
“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. ... So to me, it´s just crazy for someone to still want to come here.”
Of the few places in the world with no confirmed COVID-19 infections, nearly all are islands in the Pacific, the Daily Mail noted. American Samoa, a U.S. territory west of Hawaii, is the nation's only jurisdiction with no cases to date, the Daily Mail reported.
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