Beaches, parks closed 2 weeks ago and case numbers remain the same

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Many Oahu residents are questioning the new restrictions that were put into place on Thursday, Aug. 20.

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Under Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s ‘No Social Gatherings’ order, indoor and outdoor social gatherings of any type and any number at homes, conference rooms, and lunchrooms were prohibited.

Residents can however gather in groups of five in a ‘controlled setting,’ defined by the city as “a grocery store or a restaurant, where certain physical distancing and mask-wearing policies are in place. An uncontrolled setting would be a private residence, or a beach, where large gatherings have taken place recently.”

Anyone who lives outside of your household is not allowed to come to your residence unless they are dropping off essential items or to perform essential services.

Many residents are confused by the new rules and Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green said the new order isn’t enough.

“I’m in the exact same frustrated space as you are,” Lt. Gov. Green said. “A lot of the scalpel rules Caldwell proposed are just not meaningful. I don’t think they make sense yet.”

A ‘jumping rock contest’ held at Waimea Bay on Aug. 1, and several other large beach gatherings ultimately led to the shut down of all state and city parks, beaches, and hiking trails on Oahu on Saturday, Aug. 8.

On the day of the closure, Hawaii reported 231 cases of COVID-19. On Aug. 21, Hawaii reported 230 cases.  

“I’m concerned we’re not doing enough yet,” said Lt. Gov Green. “I was hopeful, actually, the restrictions on gatherings at parks and beaches would have had a much bigger effect, that it would cut it in half or more and it hasn’t happened.”

Under Mayor Caldwell’s newest order, beaches, parks and trails will remain closed through Sept. 17.

City officials said they are working on a plan to re-open outdoor activities like beaches, hiking and parks sooner, while making sure people do not gather in large groups.

“Being outdoors is safer than being indoors especially if you’re in your own household cluster,” Green explained. “If you’re in your own household cluster, you’re not at extra risk, you’re not at extra risk if you’re on a hike, you’re not at extra risk if you’re out swimming, or if you’re out on a walk together. Those are the things that don’t make sense to people.”

Green said he wanted to see strong recommendations announced as active cases statewide are at 3,900.

“My biggest worry right now is we have 3,900 active cases and about 11% are going to end up in the hospital and be quite sick, and our Dept. of Health needs to have time to breathe and get their testing and tracing back in place,” Lt. Gov. Green explained. “That was the secondary reason or purpose to have a stronger recommendation.”

“This is suggestive right now that there’s simply too big of a base of COVID-19 in the background and nothing short of a full ‘Safer at Home’ process will stop it,” he said. “I’m starting to feel that way, but we’ll see how Mayor and Governor’s new restrictions play out.”

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