HONOLULU — Honolulu police issued warnings or citations to thousands of people in violation of coronavirus protocols since the state launched a pre-arrival testing program to reopen to tourists.
The Honolulu Police Department said officers issued 4,500 warnings and 470 citations for not wearing masks or failing to social distance since the launch of the traveler testing program Thursday.
Police said they do not separate visitors and residents on their list of citations and warnings.
Officers also arrested several people for violations of emergency orders issued by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
About 8,000 people landed in Hawaii Thursday, the first day of the statewide program enabling travelers to visit without quarantining for two weeks if they could produce a negative coronavirus test.
The tourism industry is not doing enough to inform those arriving from outside the state about safety regulations related to the pandemic, Caldwell said.
“I’m a little discouraged by the fact that our partners in the visitor industry have not started to educate visitors,” Caldwell said. “The local folks are abiding. If they see visitors not abiding, it’s going to create resentment between local and visitors.”
Honolulu City Councilman Tommy Waters suggested the tourism industry should provide a video to be played during flights or guides outlining the regulations to be distributed as passengers disembark.
Supporters of reopening said tourists pose less risk than large gatherings of residents.
Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, said hotels have implemented an extensive education program for guests about the restrictions. But he said they cannot enforce behavior once visitors leave the properties.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.