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Military members arriving in Hawaii exempt from state quarantine rules

HONOLULU — Members of the U.S. military arriving in Hawaii will not be subjected to the state’s quarantine rule resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, but service members will follow a separate order restricting their movements.

The Department of Homeland Security exempted military members from the state’s quarantine guidelines for arriving travelers, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

But the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which oversees operations in the state, said its own “restriction of movement” guidelines prohibit service members from going out for 14 days except for travel to places considered essential such as grocery stores, doctors or pharmacies.

Marines fly near the shores of Kalaeuila in CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters over the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, on July 3, 2019. (Cpl. Eric Tso/Marine Corps)
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As of Sunday, Hawaii says there are 56 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19. Hawaii Gov. David Ige has ordered, effective March 26, that anyone entering Hawaii undergo a 14-day self-quarantine, according to the Hawaii Department of Health.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, incident commander for the state’s coronavirus response, said military members coming to Hawaii on official business were already considered to be on “essential travel for critical infrastructure.”

The Homeland Security department has asked the state to extend a quarantine exemption to military family members moving to Hawaii, officials said.

The military order is less restrictive than the requirements for arriving civilian residents and tourists, who are required to stay in a dwelling for 14 days without traveling into the community.

“I strongly believe that if residents of the state of Hawaii have rules imposed on them, then everybody should abide by the same rules,” Honolulu City Council member Kym Pine said.

The state’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center declined comment on the policy, including whether the center was tracking the number of arriving service members who are not required to quarantine.

For most people, the 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 vast majority of people recover.

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