Hawaii Police arrested a couple infected with COVID-19 on Sunday on arrival in Kauai from San Francisco after boarding a United Airlines flight knowing they were Coronavirus positive. Police were tipped off by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after the couple ignored quarantine station officials at San Francisco Airport to immediately self-isolate.
Hawaii allows travellers to skip a mandatory 14-day quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure and United Airlines offers pre-departure testing at San Francisco Airport to make it easier for passengers to travel quarantine-free. But anyone who returns a positive test is not allowed to travel and must self-isolate.
United Airlines says it is investigating how the two passengers were allowed to board one of its flights after testing positive for COVID-19. In a statement, a spokepserson for the airline explained: “Prior to traveling, all United customers are required to complete a ‘Ready to Fly’ checklist acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.”
“We are investigating this matter further to assess these passengers’ ability to fly on United in the future,” the statement continued.
Courtney Peterson, 46, and Wesley Moribe, 41, both of Wailua were picked up by local law enforcement after the plane touched down in Kauai and charged with reckless endangering in the second-degree. The posted bail of $1,000 each and a 4-year-old child traveling with them was released into the custody of a family member.
“Once the couple arrived at the Lihue Airport, they were identified and contacted by KPD personnel who escorted them to a designated isolation room for further processing and investigation,” a Kauai Police statement confirmed.
“We continue to request visitors and residents alike to follow the Governor’s Emergency Rules and take all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Despite being told to self-isolate by health officials at San Francisco Airport, it’s unclear how the couple were allowed to board the flight. In an attempt to avoid issues like this, Austrian Airlines is currently working on a system that would only activate a passengers boarding pass once a negative test result has been returned.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.