Governor Closes Beaches in Continued Effort to Push Social Distancing

April 17, 2020, 1:48 PM HST (Updated April 17, 2020, 2:08 PM)
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Makalawena beach.
Photo Credit: Eli Duke (Flickr)

Gov. David Ige announced, today, that all beaches in the state are now closed in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 and promote social distancing.

While Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim closed the beach parks on March 21, the statewide mandate is part of Ige’s fifth supplementary proclamation to his emergency rules amid the pandemic. Under the new rules, all beaches are closed, which means no sitting, standing, lying down, lounging, sunbathing, or loitering on beaches and sandbars.

People can still cross beaches to access the ocean for outdoor exercise like surfing, solo paddling and swimming as long as social distances are maintained.

Violations of the emergency rules are a petty misdemeanor and could result in fines of up to $5,000 and one year in jail, or both.

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The governor’s stay-at-home order remains in place until April 30.

Despite the stay-at-home order, officials with Department of land and Natural Resources stated people continue to access beaches, waters and trails for social and recreational activities without proper social distancing, which contributes to the risk of spread of coronavirus across the state.

“We encouraged more severe restrictions after our law enforcement officers (DOCARE) and many people noted large groups of people continuing to congregate on beaches in close proximity to one another,” said DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case. “Social distancing requirements are necessary for all of us to practice until COVID-19 is brought under control here in Hawai‘i. The Fifth Supplementary Proclamation does include exceptions which will allow people to still get outside and enjoy nature.”

The emergency rules also contain provisions for boating, fishing, and hiking. No more than two people are allowed on any boat in Hawai‘i’s water for recreational purposes, unless they are part of a single residential or family unit sharing the same address. Both people on the boat are required to maintain physical distancing of six feet from one another, as is reasonably possible. All boats are required to stay 20 feet from one another.

Group hiking on State trails is not allowed, again unless all participants are part of a single residential or family unit sharing the same address. People who want to hike alone, but who want to have another person nearby for safety reasons, are required to maintain a distance of not less than 20 feet from each other.

DLNR says people can still actively engage in fishing and gathering to get food. No groups of two or more people can engage in fishing and gathering in state waters or state lands, unless all in the group are part of a single residential or family unit sharing the same address.

DLNR is calling on each individual to take personal responsibility to limit the impact they have on their community and self-exposure to essential activities only.

For those who feel the need to hike, DLNR recommends visiting the Na Ala Hele website for trail updates and the Center of Disease Control and Hawai‘i Department of Health for guidelines on personal safety and distancing requirements.

Certain DLNR-managed coastal and trail features are deemed unsuitable for visitation due the inability to achieve the desired social distancing recommendations, remoteness of location exacerbating public safety concerns, and known history of issues such as illegal camping and social gatherings.

DLNR asks residents to stay near their own ahupua‘a of residence for outdoor exercise. For a complete list of closed state parks visit: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/

 

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