HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) — More than 100 gathered at the state Capitol on Friday to protest emergency stay-at-home orders aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus.

The protest drew a heavy police presence and at least one person was arrested.

UPDATE: Police arrested three people and cited five others for violating the stay-at-home order, according to HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu.

Penalties could include a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

The protesters, some of whom weren’t wearing masks, say the orders go to far and are hurting working families.

At the rally, they were chanting and waving signs. One sign read, “Re-open Hawaii.” Another: “Live free or die.”

“I’m out here to protest and let the governor know that he needs to open everything back up,” said Rafael Soto, an Ewa Beach resident and pastor at a Baptist church in Hawaii Kai.

About 100 protesters gathered at the Hawaii State Capitol on Friday to oppose government stay-at-home orders and other restrictions. Three people were arrested.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“We’re tired of him suppressing our freedoms. People need to get back to work. The churches need to open up. People are hurting, people are hungry. It’s ridiculous, open it back up, what’s the point?”

Another protester called the warning he got from police “fascist and Communist to the core.”

One said that “extending the lockdown is worse than the virus itself.”

Similar protests have been popping up around the country amid fierce debate over whether stay-at-home rules are necessary. Public health officials say the lockdowns — while extreme — are the only way to keep people safe.

Under the state’s stay-at-home order, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Hawaii has slowed to a trickle. Statewide on Friday, just one new case was reported.

Hawaii also has the lowest coronavirus infection and fatality rates in the nation.

But the state’s shutdown has come at a hefty price. Unemployment in the state has hit an unprecedented 35%, and only select businesses considered “low risk” are allowed to operate.

Gov. David Ige instituted his statewide stay-at-home order March 25 and it’s been extended through May 31, though some businesses and activities — like exercising on the beach — are now allowed.

Several nurses also turned out at the Capitol rally Friday to stage something of a counter-protest. Wearing masks and scrubs, one nurse held a sign that read, “We go to work for you. Stay home for us.”

An important ask . . .

Our evolution as a public service news organization over the past 10 years has prepared us for this moment in time, when what we do matters the most.

Many of you have supported Civil Beat from the beginning. We are deeply grateful to all of you for making this nonprofit news experiment possible.

As Civil Beat embarks on our summer fundraising campaign, we’re asking readers to contribute what you think we’re worth. Whether you’ve valued our public service journalism for 10 years or 10 days, now is the time we need you the most.

About the Author