Tourists bribed airport screener over R40K to bypass Covid-19 protocols, say Hawaiian police
By Shannon McMahon
Washington - Two travellers visiting Hawaii from Louisiana were arrested on Friday for offering a Honolulu airport screener $3 000 (about R44 000) to let them pass without quarantining or providing the negative coronavirus tests required for entry, officials say.
Johntrell White, 29, and Nadia Bailey, 28, were charged with bribery and flown back to the mainland. The two allegedly flew to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport without any coronavirus test results and told an airport screener not to alert officials in exchange for money.
White is accused of offering the screener $2 000 to avoid quarantine, and Bailey offered the same screener an additional $1 000, the Hawaii Attorney General's Office and Department of Public Safety reported in a Covid-19 update from the governor's office.
"The screener alerted deputy sheriffs, who arrested them both for bribery. White and Bailey were booked and released and immediately flew back to the mainland," the governor's news update stated. "The attorney general's investigation is continuing."
Bribery is punishable in Hawaii by up to 15 years in prison and can be fined up to triple the bribe amount.
Hawaii's "Safe Travels" program requires all visitors to present a negative coronavirus test done by a state-approved lab within 72 hours of travel.
Those who arrive with no test or a positive test are required to quarantine for 14 days. Travellers have been arrested in the past for breaking quarantine requirements on the island after arrival, and in December, two visitors from San Francisco who knew they had the coronavirus flew to Hawaii.
On the same day that Bailey and White were charged with bribery, officials say, a man visiting from Wisconsin was also arrested for breaking quarantine after he arrived without a coronavirus test. The man, Anthony Johnson, 44, checked into a hotel that was not his designated quarantine facility and attempted to go swimming.
This Monday alone, Hawaii saw 11 591 passengers arrive from out of state. Officials say 6 870 of those arrivals were entering for a vacation; 1 484 were returning Hawaii residents.