Conservation enforcement officers on Maui broke up a large gathering of more than 200 people who allegedly flouted COVID-19 rules at Makena’s Little Beach.
Approximately 200 to 225 people quickly packed up and left the beach once eight officers of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement arrived at dusk Sunday.
Officers cited one woman — described to be a nurse who moved to Maui from Colorado a week ago— for having alcohol in the park. Officers also reminded the woman and her companion of the state’s mask rules.
Last week, Gov. David Ige announced everyone on every island will be required to wear a mask in public.
Exemptions to the COVID-19 mask mandate include those with medical conditions or disabilities; eating, drinking and smoking; and children under age 5.
In a news release, State Parks Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter said he was taken aback that a nurse spent her first weekend on Maui at a “potential super spreader event.”
“These are the kinds of actions that are insensitive and inappropriate anywhere, not the least of which at a crowded beach party,” Carpenter said.
Little Beach has a reputation for nude sunbathing which is illegal at state parks.
Sunday gatherings at the beach has become a tradition where many people gather to view the week’s first sunset but officials say the gatherings are more so beach parties with alcohol, littering and nudity. Enforcement officers say people violating rules at Little Beach is always a concern. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, enforcement officials have heightened fears about the potential spread of COVID-19 because of the blatant disregard of the emergency rules.
Two other people at Sunday’s gathering told officers that they were not worried about COVID-19, claiming the island’s infection rates were much lower than most places on the mainland.
DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “These are the very types of attitudes and behaviors that could well set us back. We know from all of the expert health and safety advice, that large gatherings are potential super-spreaders.”
Redulla urged people to be responsible and follow the rules and laws.
Officials noted several coronavirus cases earlier in the pandemic were traced back to someone who had attended one of the Sunday gatherings at the beach.