Honolulu, HI – Most travelers heading to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or Florida will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrivals due to the rampant spread of the coronavirus.
On Saturday, Hawaii Governor David Ige issued an emergency proclamation mandating the two-week quarantine for all incoming travelers, KHON reported.
It does not apply to inter-island flights.
Under the mandate, which goes into effect on Thursday, returning Hawaiians must isolate themselves inside their homes.
Visitors will be required to stay inside their hotel rooms.
“You may leave your designated quarantine for medical emergencies or to seek medical care,” Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Director Kenneth Hara said, according to KHON. “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.”
Ige said that the mandatory self-isolation will not apply to flight crews, essential workers, or first responders, KHNL reported.
Violators face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year in prison.
“We believe that it will help us to flatten the curve so that our healthcare system is not overwhelmed like it has been in other communities around the world,” the governor added, according to KHON.
The quarantine order will remain in effect indefinitely, KHNL reported.
“This mandate is the first of its kind in the nation. We want this action to send the message to visitors and residents alike that we appreciate their love for Hawaii but we are asking them to postpone their visit,” Ige said. “We need to come together as a community to fight this virus.”
There have been at least 77 confirmed cases in Hawaii thus far.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a similar executive order on Monday, KNYW reported.
In an effort to avoid a statewide shutdown, DeSantis ordered that anyone traveling from New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey must self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrivals, according to KBBH.
DeSantis said that over 100 flights arrive from New York and the surrounding area every day, and that he believes at least one person on each of those flights has likely been infected by the novel coronavirus, KNYW reported.
Incoming travelers will also not be allowed to stay with friends or family during their 14-day isolations in order to stop them from spreading the virus.
“It is actually a criminal offense if you violate the quarantine orders, so people can be held accountable here in the State of Florida if they buck the law,” the governor warned.
Violation of a quarantine order is a misdemeanor offense in Florida, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, KNYW reported.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he has mixed feelings about DeSantis’ executive order.
“I understand it. We are the epicenter,” he acknowledged. “[But] I’m not sure it’s the most enlightened approach.”
DeSantis pointed out that part of the reason that New York has experienced so many coronavirus cases is because of citizens who refuse to follow directives to stay home, KNYW reported.
“New York City – it’s like the party never ended,” the Florida governor said. “You’ve got people congregating all over the place.”
Florida had 1,227 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Tuesday morning.
On Monday, Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced announced that all incoming travelers will be mandated to comply with a complete lockdown for 14 days, Caribbean Business reported.
“Our call is that every traveler who has coordinated a trip to Puerto Rico knows that no matter the activity or the reason that brings them to our island, once they enter Puerto Rican soil, they will be on lockdown 24/7 for 14 days,” Garced said.
“You will not be able to carry out any activity that requires you to leave your hotel and/or home. Our recommendation is that you do not travel to Puerto Rico during the emergency,” she reiterated.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also granted the governor’s request to redirect incoming airline flights to land only at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in order to streamline screening processes, Caribbean Business reported.
Previously, flights were able to land at one of seven airports.
Private and chartered aircraft may land at one of three airports under the mandate.
The changes in Puerto Rico went into effect immediately, Caribbean Business reported.
Puerto Rico had 31 confirmed cases of coronavirus by Tuesday morning.