A father and son traveling from the mainland United States to Hawaii have been arrested for allegedly falsifying vaccination cards and now are facing up to a year in prison and fines.
Norbert Chung, 57, and his son Trevor Chung, 19, were both arrested on Sunday at Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye Airport. The attorney for the Chungs told KHON-TV that after being arrested the duo flew back to California, where they were tested for COVID-19 and the results came back negative. The father and son then flew back to Oahu, where they are now going through the court system.
The Chungs were accused of falsifying their coronavirus vaccination cards. Investigators from the Department of the Attorney General made the arrests after receiving a tip before the tourists arrived in Hawaii, according to USA Today.
The Chungs were arraigned on Thursday morning.
Gary Yamashiroya, a spokesperson for Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors (D), said the father and son face up to one year in prison, as well as a maximum of $5,000 in fines.
In order to travel to Hawaii, visitors must self-quarantine for 10 days. Travelers may obtain an exemption from the quarantine by being fully vaccinated, then uploading their vaccination record document to the Safe Travels website or providing a hard copy of their COVID-19 vaccination card when arriving in Hawaii.
Since the quarantine and "Safe Travels" rules were instituted in 2020, the attorney general's office created a task force to catch anyone who violates the order.
"Part of that task force, our job is to investigate community complaints that come in about what's going on with visitors that may or may not be cooperating," said Arthur Logan, special agent of criminal investigations for the Department of Attorney General.
"Prior to Sunday, there were many, many hours put into the investigation that culminated on Sunday and where we are even today," Logan told KHON-TV.
"There are multiple investigations that we have and are continuing to do," Logan warned. "This is the first one that culminated in the arrests such as we have, but that's not to say there are more to follow."
"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 to come and enjoy paradise," Logan added.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige used the arrest of the father and son as an example of the state's stringent enforcement of coronavirus restrictions.
"We've been pretty aggressive in enforcing and prosecuting those violators that we have become aware of,'' the Democratic governor said during a press conference on Tuesday. "We have pursued quarantine violations. We do have a case where we had travelers forging vaccination records that we've filed charges against.''
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaii has been one of the strictest states in enforcing coronavirus-related restrictions. According to a July 17 press release from the governor's office, "182 people have been arrested by state or county law enforcement officers for violating emergency quarantine rules."