Two tourists who traveled to Hawaii over the weekend have been arrested after authorities said they violated the state’s coronavirus restrictions by falsifying vaccine cards.
The Hawaii attorney general’s office told The Hill on Friday that two men, identified by USA Today as Norbert Chung, 57, and Trevor Chung, 19, both from the U.S. mainland, were detained at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye Airport on Sunday after receiving a tip from a community member prior to their arrival.
Gary Yamashiroya, a spokesperson for state Attorney General Clare Connors (D), said that the two tourists were arraigned Thursday morning and face up to one year in prison, as well as a maximum of $5,000 in fines.
The two men were found to be in violation of Hawaii’s Safe Travels program, which requires all travelers from any part of the U.S. and its territories to provide proof of vaccination to avoid a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon arrival.
Yamashiroya said that the attorney general’s office “will investigate and prosecute those who cheat the Safe Travels program, which was established to keep our islands safe.”
Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) addressed the arrests in his Tuesday news conference on the state of COVID-19, saying that authorities will prosecute the men “to the fullest extent of the law.”
However, the governor noted that “our police departments in every county are short staffed, and unable to fully police, try and respond to every single violation that is seen.”
"But I do believe collectively that we’re going to make an effort to enforce,” he added. “It is important that these restrictions be implemented in order to slow the spread of the virus.”
Authorities and health experts across the country are warning of individuals seeking to provide fake vaccine cards as more businesses and local governments impose mandates requiring proof of vaccination to enter some businesses and participate in certain activities.
Earlier this month, two airline passengers traveling from the U.S. to Canada were fined nearly $16,000 each when authorities said they discovered that the individuals presented fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination credentials.
Last month, a naturopathic doctor from Napa, Calif., was charged with federal crimes for allegedly selling fake COVID-19 cards to indicate that customers had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna.
The Justice Department said that the doctor is facing 20 years in prison for a wire fraud charge and five years for a false statements charge.
—Updated at 2:02 p.m.