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State mandates have little impact on HVNP

The state’s latest gathering size restrictions have not significantly impacted operations at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Last week, Gov. David Ige’s signed an executive order that reduced indoor gatherings to only 10 people, and outdoor gatherings to 25, in light of an ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases statewide. High-risk areas such as restaurants, bars and gyms also are restricted to 50% capacity.

HVNP spokesman Ben Hayes said the park, which has consistently deferred to state and county guidance since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, has not been substantially impacted by the new order.

The most notable change has been to the park’s ranger programs, which were previously open to a maximum of 75 people at once. Since last week, those programs now max out at 25 people, which is enforced through a ticket system, Hayes said.

Similarly, the park is unaffected by a Monday order by the National Park Service requiring all national park visitors, employees and contractors to wear masks in crowded outdoor spaces.

Hayes said the state and county pandemic guidance supersedes the NPS’ order, and is more stringent.

“One of the advantages of sticking with the county and state guidance is that it’s more consistent,” Hayes said, adding that the park’s COVID guidelines have stayed mostly the same since the pandemic began.

Although masks remain “strongly recommended in crowded (outdoor) areas,” Hayes said most overlook areas are large enough that crowding isn’t an issue, particularly now that the most recent Kilauea eruption has ended.

Masks remain mandatory within HVNP buildings, however. Hayes said guests have been conscientious about wearing masks while queuing for restrooms and other park facilities.

Similarly, Ige’s executive order should not impact the ongoing road construction in the park.

Currently, Chain of Craters Road and Crater Rim Drive will have temporary traffic control measures periodically until Sept. 15, and limited parking will be available at Devastation Trail parking lot until Aug. 30.

The Thurston Lava Tube and Volcano House parking lots will be closed on Aug. 30, and the Kilauea Iki Overlook parking area will have reduced parking and temporary traffic control at a date to be determined.

Those road projects, as well as several others that have been completed in recent months, are part of a broad series of maintenance projects that is on track to be wrapped up by the end of October, Hayes said.

However, part of Mauna Loa Road remains closed to motor vehicles because of a potential fire hazard until further notice.

Email Michael Brestovansky at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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