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State closes all beaches, stricter social distancing requirements imposed for boating, hiking

  • BRUCE ASATO / APRIL 12
                                Enforcement of restrictions of Hawaii beaches continues to increase. Two HPD officers approached sunbathers on Queen’s Surf Beach in Waikiki, citing them for violating the emergency stay-at-home order.

    BRUCE ASATO / APRIL 12

    Enforcement of restrictions of Hawaii beaches continues to increase. Two HPD officers approached sunbathers on Queen’s Surf Beach in Waikiki, citing them for violating the emergency stay-at-home order.

All Hawaii beaches have been closed as of today, and new, stricter social distancing requirements have been imposed for boating and fishing, gathering in state waters and lands and hiking in state parks by order of Gov. David Ige in a fifth supplementary proclamation to his emergency rules, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources announced in a statement.

Active exercising in the ocean is still permitted, but hiking, boating and fishing in groups of two or more is forbidden except to members of the same family or others living at the same address.

The reason is “it became clear that many people are continuing to access beaches, waters, and trails for social and recreational activities without proper social distancing,” the announcement said.

“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,” DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said in the statement.

The beach closures mean no sitting, standing, lying down or lounging on beaches and sandbars will be allowed, but people can still walk across beaches to access the ocean for exercise like surfing, solo paddling and swimming , so long as social distancing of at least 6 feet between people is kept.

In a boat, “both people on the boat are required to maintain physical distancing of six-feet from one another, as is reasonably possible,” the proclamation stated, and boats are further ordered to keep 20 feet away from one another.

The rules apply to all boats coming out of the state’s small boat harbors, said AJ McWhorter, DLNR communications specialist.

When it comes to hiking, couples and family/residential groups need to maintain a distance of not less than 20 feet from each other, McWhorter said.

“Social distancing requirements are necessary for all of us to practice until COVID-19 is brought under control here in Hawaii,” Case said, noting that the proclamation “allow(s) people to still get outside and enjoy nature.”

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

For a list of state parks that are closed due to social distancing and safety concerns visit dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/.

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