HONOLULU (AP) — All 21 members of a group who were arrested over Hawaii's traveler quarantine have been released from jail and returned to California.
The group known as Carbon Nation arrived in Hawaii over two days earlier this month. Some of them were seen at a Big Island beach the day they arrived and a video posted online showed their leader, Eligio Bishop, touching a sea turtle, police said.
Police arrested 21 of them last week on suspicion of violating a 14-day quarantine on all travelers arriving in the state.
The quarantine has helped Hawaii maintain low coronavirus infection rates compared to other parts of the U.S. As of Tuesday, 740 people have tested positive and 17 people have died.
Bishop and two others were released Monday and flew back to Los Angeles after he pleaded no contest to the quarantine violation. He and other members say they didn't realize Hawaii's quarantine would be strictly enforced.
The remaining 18 were released Tuesday and took a flight that night to Los Angeles, said Jessica Lani Rich, president of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, which has been arranging flights out of the state for quarantine breakers.
She said Wednesday that some people have criticized using a grant to fund the flight assistance program for people who break quarantine.
“It was money well spent,” she said. “The whole purpose of sending them back is to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” she said, explaining other expenses and resources would have been expended if they remained.
If anyone from the group returns and violates the quarantine, they will be charged again, authorities said.
A case is ongoing against a woman who police say owns one of the homes the group members booked through Airbnb, Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth said Wednesday.
Tylea Fuhrmann, 42, was charged with violating an emergency rule prohibiting the operation of short-term vacation rentals, police said. She couldn't immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. It's not clear if she has an attorney.
The second house the group rented remains under investigation, Roth said.