Hawaii police arresting people for quarantine violations

In Hawaii, police are cracking down on dangerous criminals perpetrating such horrific deeds as visiting beaches, buying groceries, and picking up take-out food.

Hawaii requires all people entering the state to quarantine for 14 days, which is the strictest requirement of any U.S. state. Violations are punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or one year in jail. Government officials enforce the quarantine rule by requiring travelers to tell them what hotel they are staying at, and by telling hotels to issue room keys that can only be used for checking in, and not for re-entry. They also repeatedly call travelers and alert the police if the person does not answer his or her phone.

At least 20 people have been arrested for violating the requirement. This includes a couple from California celebrating their honeymoon who were arrested for leaving their hotel room. Another couple, from Virginia, were arrested for attempting to go to a grocery store before checking in at their hotel. Other individuals have been arrested for swimming at a hotel pool, for operating personal watercraft, and for purchasing groceries at Costco.

Honolulu City Council Member Kym Pine believes that travelers should be required to either be tested for the virus before boarding planes to Hawaii or have their locations tracked via cell phone. Speaking to the Associated Press, she made the curious argument that the economic damage caused by the lockdown rules – the unemployment rate in Hawaii is estimated to be between 25% to 35% – makes it particularly bad for people to violate them. “The people that are coming don’t care about us,” she said. “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.”

This just doesn’t make sense. The cause of Hawaii’s economic devastation is the rules that the government put in place banning events from happening, businesses from operating, and people from moving about freely. It’s the government who could care less about people with no jobs and no food. They caused the situation by implementing authoritarian measures that prioritize safety over not just economic prosperity but also freedom. People violating the harsh regulations are not causing Hawaii’s economic problems; the regulations themselves are. If anything, someone who cares about the economy would encourage tourists to visit, not punish them by throwing them in jail when they have done nothing wrong.