- Two tourists were arrested Sunday and accused with violating Hawaii’s COVID-19 travel rules, officials said.
- Officials said the pair falsified vaccination documents in order to travel to the state.
- Travelers can provide proof of vaccination to avoid a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon arrival.
On Sunday, two tourists from the US mainland were arrested in Honolulu, Hawaii, in connection with using fake vaccination cards to travel to the state, officials said.
Norbert Chung, 57, and Trevor Chung, 19, were arrested at Daniel K. Inouye Airport after officials accused them of violating the state’s coronavirus travel restrictions by falsifying vaccination cards, according to investigators. Hawaii’s Safe Travels program requires visitors to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to be exempt from a mandatory 10-day quarantine after arrival.
In a statement provided to Insider, Hawaii’s Department of the Attorney General said investigators made the arrest after being tipped off by a community member.
“The Department of the Attorney General will investigate and prosecute those who cheat the Safe Travels program, which was established to keep our islands safe,” the office said, adding that the potential penalties for falsifying vaccination cards include a fine of up $5,000 and up to one year in prison.
The statement did not give a motivation for why the suspects, who were arraigned Thursday morning, may have faked the cards.
Local outlet KHON2 reported that after being arrested, the pair had to fly back to California, test negative for COVID-19, and then return to Honolulu to face the courts.
“To come to Hawaii and spend thousands of dollars on a trip and hotel and airfare and the money you’re going to spend to enjoy paradise, you’re going to risk that and spend even more money, because you put yourself, your family and others in jeopardy by trying to falsify documents,” Arthur Logan, special agent of criminal investigations for the attorney general’s office, told the outlet.
The office established a task force in 2020 to enforce the Safe Travels restrictions, but Logan said this is the first investigation to end in an arrest.
Fake vaccination cards have emerged as more vaccine mandates are passed by businesses and government agencies, with some available to purchase online.