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Kokua Line: Honolulu County clarifies new rules for using playing courts, beaches under pandemic Tier 1

Question: Can Kokua Line please get clarification on current Tier 1 opening rules for Oahu parks? I play pickleball where there are four outdoor courts. Are we allowed five people per court or only five people for the entire complex of four courts?

Answer: Five people per court, said Nathan Serota, a spokesman for Honolulu County’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The same would be true of basketball, tennis, volleyball and other sports played on outdoor courts, he said.

So, for example, tennis or pickleball players can play regulation singles or doubles, because even doubles would put only four people on a court at a time.

Sports with larger teams are limited, though. Take basketball, for example. Five friends could shoot hoops on one court, and another five could play on an adjacent court in the same outdoor complex. But the two teams could not compete, because that would put 10 people on one court — which is against the rules.

The five players per court do not need to be related to each other or live in the same household, he said, answering other readers’ questions.

Q: The city says you have to have a permit for a canopy now, but I looked at the website and it gave a maximum size but not a minimum size. Could you follow up?

A: You are one of many readers to ask this or similar questions after Oahu’s Department of Parks and Recreation issued its pandemic-era reopening strategy for park facilities and activities. The new rules include requiring a permit for canopy use. The department updated its website Wednesday to clarify that the definition of canopy “does not include umbrellas and small sunshades designed for three or fewer people (e.g., golf umbrella, standard-sized beach umbrella, small pop-up shade for parent/child).”

The website defines canopy “as a collapsible structure consisting of sheets of canvas, fabric, or other material attached to or draped over a frame or a supporting rope that is open without sidewalls.” Permitted canopies cannot be larger than 10 feet by 10 feet and must be spaced at least 12 feet apart.

There is no fee for a canopy permit.

For more information, or to apply for a permit, go to

Q: The Honolulu mayor’s new four-tier opening plan does not allow for permitted team sports until Tier 4. This appears to mean permitted team sports won’t be allowed in city parks and facilities for at least three months. Is this interpretation correct?

A: Yes. “Correct. It is important to note that in the metrics it states, ‘Outdoor organized team sports (permit) excludes sports associated with educational institutions (spectators considered social gatherings),’” Serota said.

Q: Can we do family camping?

A: Yes, starting Oct. 9, but campsites will be limited to a maximum of five people, according to the city. The online reservation system will reopen Friday at 5 p.m. For more information, go to

The restriction on camping groups of five or fewer will persist through Tiers 1 and 2 and be lifted under Tier 3, under which Oahu’s seven-day average for COVID-19 would have a new daily case count from 20 to 49 and a positivity rate of 1% to 2.49%, according to the framework.

Q: What about swimming pools?

A: Lap swimming at city pools is scheduled to resume on Monday. The pandemic-era rules in place before Oahu’s shutdown also will resume. These include having one person per lane, regardless of household; limiting individual swim time at busy pools so that more people get a turn; and following physical distancing and face mask rules when entering and exiting the facility (face masks are not required in the water.).

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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