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State land officers are citing closure violators, agency warns

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A pandemic’s no picnic, but after getting off to a rocky start with a confusing round of sometimes conflicting park and beach closures by the city and state, Honolulu residents now have more outdoor space permitted for their essential exercise breaks during these coronavirus confinement days.

However, hikers and others who violate closures are being warned and cited by officers in the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, who are patrolling the parks, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Tuesday.

Honolulu’s 300 city parks, which were closed March 18 by Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s order aimed at suppressing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, were reopened to the public Saturday, subject to the same exercise-only and social distancing limitations that apply on city and state beaches.

Also on Saturday, Gov. David Ige reopened state beaches for exercise.

One can walk, run, bike and otherwise keep moving. Sitting, lying and standing still are forbidden, as are picnicking, team sports and using playground and outdoor workout equipment.

And swimming, surfing, paddling and fishing in the ocean continue to be allowed, so long as people keep 6 feet away from others.

All state parks, monuments, waysides, lookouts, historical sites and recreation areas, however, remain closed, Dan Dennison, DLNR spokesperson, said in an email Wednesday, “except for transiting to the ocean where allowed.”

Alleged miscreants included two Honolulu men, Derwin Peng and Cole Chun, who were cited Tuesday for entering the closed Diamond Head State Monument.

Having received reports of people entering the park, DOCARE officers spotted Peng and Chun, both 21 years old, just before 6 p.m. “on an upper footpath on the Ewa side of the crater rim,” according to the DLNR.

The officers “contacted the pair on the path and brought them out the main entrance due to low light conditions and the unsafe, rocky terrain,” according to a press release.

On Monday, another man, while walking his dog through the closed Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline in East Oahu, encountered a DOCARE officer.

“The man claimed he didn’t know the park was closed, even though he was standing next to yellow police tape and directly beneath a park closed sign,” DLNR’s release said.

“We hope everyone will take these closures and emergency rules seriously, not only to protect themselves and our natural resources, but to respect the primary reason for our current closures … the requirements for social distancing,” DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said in the release.

As of Friday, statewide, DOCARE officers had issued a total of 107 citations and 304 warnings for various violations associated with emergency rules, from entering a closed state park to alcohol possession and parking violations, the news release said.

Dennison added that the citations are all petty misdemeanors, punishable by up to a month in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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