With restrictions to beach and shoreline parks extending until late this month, Hawaii County police are distributing handouts at parks across the island that explain what visitors can and can’t do.
Police officers were seen distributing eight-page pamphlets outlining Mayor Harry Kim’s COVID-19 Emergency Rule No. 11 at Reeds Bay Friday to ensure all attendees were aware of the newest rule.
As the pamphlet explains, all county beach and shoreline parks are only usable as direct access to the ocean, and lingering in the parks themselves is prohibited. Those restrictions are in effect until at least Sept. 18.
While gatherings at shoreline parks are prohibited, residents can still use the space for exercise from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
On Friday morning, a few people were seen fishing along Reeds Bay Beach Park, while others walked around the park getting exercise.
Kim said the pamphlets are being distributed at parks throughout the island to improve education about the rules.
“What the police and I agreed to a long time ago was that we don’t want to have the kind of relationship with people that we just arrest them for not following the rules,” Kim said, explaining that he hopes the pamphlets will encourage park attendees to modify their behavior.
However, he added, police have and will continue to arrest people who refuse to follow the rules, and pointed out that, with the pamphlets being distributed, park users cannot claim to be unaware of the rules.
The pamphlets also include a notice warning people of inaccurate documents online purporting that certain individuals are exempt from having to wear masks.
While some of these false documents cite the U.S. Department of Justice and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Department of Justice has issued no such exemption, nor does the ADA provide a blanket mask exemption to people with disabilities.
In order to step up enforcement and the county’s response to new COVID-19 cases, the county announced Thursday that it would open a Central Command Post at Aunty Sally Kaleohano’s Luau Hale.
Kim said the command post will gather in one spot the dozens of contact tracers, officers, quarantine trackers and more required to manage the pandemic.
Despite growing calls to reinstate another lockdown as case numbers on the island continue to rise, Kim was still resistant to the idea Friday, saying that decision would be a last-resort solution that would be devastating to small businesses across the island.
Kim pointed out that on Wednesday, more than half of the total new COVID cases on the island originated at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home.
“No lockdown would have prevented those cases,” Kim said, adding that while the Yukio Okutsu cluster is tragic, it is largely self-contained and doesn’t threaten the greater Hawaii Island community.
Meanwhile, Kim said teams from the command post will be sent to Milolii Fishing Village in South Kona today, where at least 10 cases were confirmed earlier this week.
The teams will not lock down the village, as some lawmakers have urged, but they will screen the remaining villagers for COVID and distribute protective equipment to the inhabitants.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources also announced Friday that Shipman’s Beach, Puna Trail and “Narnia” are all closed after large group gatherings were held at each location.
Access to the Hilo Restricted Watershed Section of the Hilo Forest Reserve — wherein Narnia is located — is now only permitted to those with valid hunting licenses on weekends and holidays only.
Shipman’s Beach and the Puna trail are closed to all until at least Sept. 18.
Email Michael Brestovansky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald