Hawaii Considers Tracking Devices On Tourists To Enforce Quarantine
On March 21, Hawaii’s government started requiring visitors to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the island. A week later, the Governor signed an order including inter-island travel in the order. Now, as the Attorney General of Hawaii considers tracking devices on tourists, government surveillance may be on the table to enforce quarantine orders.
According to Hawaii News Now, State Attorney General Clare Connors is examining the legality of such a policy. Connors told a COVID-19 State Senate Committee, “I think it runs the gamut of what they’re doing in Taiwan, which is you wear an ankle bracelet for 14 days and if it goes outside your hotel room, it pings and that’s the only information that gets conveyed to the 24/7 GPS where we know exactly where you are, what you’re doing at all times.”
The current quarantine requires that people register upon arrival with an address where they will be staying. People are required to quarantine in that location for 14 days or the entirety of their stay if less than 14 days. Violating the quarantine orders comes with a hefty price: $5,000 or a year in prison.
Earlier this week, authorities announced new policies to clamp down on violations to the quarantine policy. Authorities began performing checks by calling cell phone numbers while people were still at the airport to confirm the number was legitimate. Investigators also started cross-referencing property tax records with the addresses on the quarantine form.
Of course, this raises questions about the reality of government overreach. Should a government be able to place tracking devices on people an order to enforce a law? In the case of Taiwan, the GPS is only activated upon leaving the location you are quarantining. But this is a whole new level of controlling people’s movement that may raise many constitutional questions. This comes at a time as people protest mandatory stay-at-home orders around the country.
This seems to be a total overreach of government. I understand Hawaii’s attempts to stop the spread of coronavirus. But there’s something rather terrifying about the prospect of presuming guilt. This policy presumes that people who arrive will break the law. And so those who follow the law, need to authorize government tracking. That’s a terrifying thought. I also think its gross overreach.
Our trip to Hawaii was canceled, but I can say wholeheartedly that I would not agree to ankle bracelet monitoring by a government. And that may be exactly what the Hawaiian government is banking on to prevent the flow of tourists.