Pair accused of bribery to avoid Hawaii COVID travel rules



An airplane is seen parked at a terminal at the the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Honolulu. A new pre-travel testing program will allow visitors who test negative for COVID-19 to come to Hawaii and avoid two weeks of mandatory quarantine. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)


Two travelers were arrested after being accused of bribing airport screeners with cash in an attempt to dodge Hawaii’s strict COVID-19 travel rules, state officials say.

Johntrell White, 29, and Nadia Bailey, 28, both from Louisiana, arrived last Friday at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu without valid coronavirus exemptions or a pre-test required under the state’s Safe Travels program, according to the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office and Department of Public Safety.

White is accused of offering an airport screener $2,000 to let him bypass a 10-day mandatory quarantine, after which Bailey offered to throw in another $1,000 for both of them to be allowed through, officials said.

The Honolulu airport worker immediately notified a deputy sheriff who arrested White and Bailey on bribery charges, according to a news release. The pair was booked and released before flying back to the mainland.

The incident remains under investigation.

Under Hawaii’s Safe Travels rules, travelers must produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter the state as part of its new pre-travel testing program, according to the state’s website. The protocols are aimed at preventing the virus’ spread across the Hawaiian islands, which have reported nearly 27,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, state data shows.

The program also requires visitors to fill out a Mandatory State of Hawai‘i Travel and Health Form and undergo temperature checks at all state airports upon arrival.

Visitors who don’t meet the state’s COVID travel standards are required to quarantine at the place they are staying and if they break quarantine they face legal consequences.

“Travelers who successfully complete a pre-travel test will not be subject to the state’s 10-day quarantine program,” according to the state’s website. “The test has to be taken 72 hours from the final leg of departure AND the negative COVID-19 test result uploaded to the Safe Travels platform or printed out and in hand prior to departure to Hawai‘i in order to avoid the 10-day quarantine.”

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Tanasia is a national Real-Time reporter based in Atlanta covering Georgia, Mississippi and the southeastern U.S. She’s an alumna of Kennesaw State University and joined McClatchy in 2020.

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