United banned a Hawaii couple from flying after police said they tested positive for COVID-19 and then boarded a 6-hour flight

  • A Hawaii couple is facing reckless-endangerment charges after flying while they had COVID-19, The Washington Post reported.
  • After testing positive for the coronavirus, the couple boarded a flight from San Francisco to Lihue, Hawaii, where they were arrested, the police said.
  • United Airlines banned the couple, who face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted.
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A Hawaii couple were greeted by the police after landing back in their home state and arrested on charges of second-degree reckless endangerment. They were flying while COVID-19-positive, the police said.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Wesley Moribe and Courtney Peterson tested positive for COVID-19 before flying six hours from San Francisco to Lihue, Hawaii, on Sunday. After being advised not to travel, they boarded the United Airlines flight home with their 4-year-old child anyway, the police said, according to The Post.

"They knowingly boarded a flight aware of their positive COVID-19 test results, placing the passengers of the flight in danger of death," a representative for the Kauai Police Department, Coco Zickos, told The Post.

The route is a popular one for the airline, with preflight testing to allow travelers to enter the state. In response to increased travel demand, Hawaii allowed visitors to avoid quarantining if they receive a negative test result within 72 hours of traveling.

The island of Kauai, where Lihue is, opted out of Hawaii's program and now requires all arrivals to quarantine for 14 days.

All United passengers are also required to complete a health declaration that includes acknowledging that they did not test positive for the virus in the preceding 21 days. It's one of the safety measures airlines have adopted to help increase confidence in an industry that's been decimated by the pandemic.

Read more: Airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population — and airline CEOs say it's proof that flying is safe

"The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have various policies and procedures in place as part of a multi-layered approach to create a safer travel environment, including mandating that everyone onboard wears a mask," United Airlines told Business Insider in a statement.

United didn't say why the passengers were allowed to board the aircraft after airport officials were made aware of their positive tests.

"We have banned these customers while we investigate this matter," the airline said.

In March, JetBlue Airways barred a passenger who flew while he had COVID-19, though he may not have known it when he stepped on the plane. The man said he was awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test and received the results while he was on the aircraft.

That passenger was not arrested after getting off the jet. Local authorities did, however, explore whether they could file charges, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

The Hawaii couple could face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted.

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