Some Hawaii state parks and monuments are being reopened for active exercise as of today, subject to restrictions and continued requirements that visitors respect social distancing, stay in motion and avoid gatherings “of any sort,” the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks announced in a statement.
Oahu parks open for day beach use or hiking include:
>> The Fort Ruger Pathway on the exterior of Diamond Head State Monument, but the interior and crater are closed
>> The Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline, but its lookouts remain closed
>> Mālaekahana State Recreation Area
>> Kaʻena Point State Park, strictly for hiking and beach exercise on the Mokuleia section and limited beach access for exercise and water use on the Makua and Keawaʻula sections
The announcement included reassuring new advice from the Hawai‘i Dept. of Health that exercisers don’t have to feel doomed to certain contagion if passersby come briefly closer than the recommended 6-foot buffer zone.
“The fact that these are outdoor/open air spaces with good ventilation means any risk of transmission will be greatly decreased,” said State Epidemiologist Sarah Park, noting that “trails that may not be wide enough at some points to accommodate 6(-foot) distance, so it will be important to remind people to keep moving and not congregate.”
Park added, “as long as people are moving past each other, even if they’re within 6 (feet) of each other and not wearing a mask, we wouldn’t categorize those persons as anything but low risk at most and likely no risk.”
DLNR Chair Suzanne Case underscored that the parks were reopening “strictly for mobile activities such as hiking and ocean use” in order “to support our residents’ physical and emotional health (during) this unprecedented time of virtually no out-of state visitors.”
Outside of mobile exercising, other traditional park activities, notably social uses “such as parties, picnics, gatherings, setting up on the beach, and camping are still not allowed during the stay at home mandate,” Case said.
For that reason, she said, certain popular parks, such as Heʻeia State Park and Lā’ie Point and Nu’uanu Pali State Waysides, remain closed.
“Where social distancing isn’t possible, at lookouts and certain trails, we’re keeping those kinds of areas closed,” Case added during an appearance at Gov. David Ige’s daily press briefing today.
All beaches remain closed, Case said at the briefing, and may be used only to access the ocean and for active exercise sessions on the sand.
Residents were urged to think local, staying “within their own ahupua’a and neighborhoods rather than traveling across an island to another community’s park,” Curt Cottrell, DLNR Division of State Parks Administrator, said in the release.
Cottrell said parks may be closed again if people behave inappropriately or public health circumstances change.
In an additional release today, Case reminded park users to keep their distance, keep dogs on leashes and otherwise avoid disturbing wildlife they might see, in particular endangered Hawaiian monk seals, who are in the middle of their pupping season, as well as green sea turtles, many of which have gotten used to not seeing humans when parks were closed during the past six weeks.
DLNR biologists recommended that people give beached seals an “extra-wide berth, both for the protection of the pup and for human safety around protective mother seals.”
Citing multiple reports of off-leash dogs around monk seals over the past few days, DLNR warned violations carry $2,000-plus fines .
A list of open and closed State Parks can be seen at dlnr.hawaii.gov; to report situations involving wildlife, call the NOAA Statewide Marine Animal Hotline at (888) 256-9840.