Big Island Coronavirus Updates

All Hawai‘i State Parks, Commercial Ocean and Trail Tours Closed

March 20, 2020, 5:07 PM HST
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Kekaha Kai State Park, Mahaiula Beach. Photo courtesy of DLNR’s website.

Hawai‘i is closing all its state parks and the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) has suspended all commercial operator permits until further notice.

The news comes on the heels of an announcement Friday that state health officials had identified community spread of COVID-19 on O‘ahu. The suspension is consistent with Governor Ige’s supplemental emergency proclamation, DOH guidelines and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

This covers hundreds of tour operators, surf and SUP schools, sight-seeing, whale-watching and dinner cruises, and any commercial operation operating in state ocean waters.

“Many people are not practicing the recommended social distancing protocols, so it’s become necessary for us to take these extraordinary steps to help encourage the six-foot separation between people recommended by Gov. Ige, the CDC and our experts at the DOH,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. “It is hoped that every commercial permit holder and all local residents and visitors will abide by these closures in the spirit of flattening the spread of the coronavirus.”

Many state parks were closed four days ago, but the DLNR Division of State Parks announced this afternoon that it is shuttering all parks, statewide.

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“Unfortunately,” Curt Cottrell, State Parks Administrator said, “many, many people are simply ignoring gates and signs and choosing to put themselves and any others close-by at risk of contracting COVID-19. This unprecedented step is being taken in the interest of public health and safety and we really encourage people to find alternate activities that do not expose themselves and others to the virus.”

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The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) has closed all commercial tours on State trails and wildlife sanctuaries. Any vendors with tours already booked will be refunded.

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) is receiving reports of people continuing to enter Diamond Head State Monument and other closed parks. This is not only dangerous in places like the outer slopes and crater rim of Diamond Head, but violators are subject to being cited or arrested.

Case said, “We are all in this together. It is an enormous inconvenience and upsetting to the kind of lifestyle we enjoy in Hawai‘i. The faster we stop the spread of COVID-19 by everyone practicing social distancing, the quicker we’re likely to see our lives return to normal.”

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