HONOLULU (KHON2) — An illegal beach party in east Oahu on Saturday, Aug. 28, has officials on high alert. Police broke up the party and several people were cited but officials warn there could be consequences for those who flagrantly disobey restrictions during Labor Day weekend.
Stay home. Do not gather. That is the message officials are sending to everyone ahead of Labor Day.
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Make sure to keep beach gatherings and barbeques small because officials will be watching.
Between 300 and 400 unmasked people were seen drinking and partying at a popular local spot along the Kaiwi shoreline on Aug. 28.
Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) chief Jason Redulla was outraged.
“It’s unbelievable that anyone at this time in the pandemic believes that it’s a good idea to promote or attend a gathering like this,” Redulla said.
He warned, DOCARE officers would be out in force throughout Labor Day weekend.
“For us it’s an all hands on deck situation,” he explained. “But particularly because of the way COVID is going in our community, we are particularly going to be on the look out for large gatherings and trying to address them if they do occur.”
According to Redulla, they are prepared to seize equipment at illegal gatherings.
“If they’re bringing generators and sound equipment, tents those kinds of things, my agency is prepared to seize all of those things as evidence if necessary.”
And he said anyone who breaks the law could face fines — and even jail time. DLNR state parks administrator Curt Cottrell said incidents like this could have other consequences.
“In some instances this has forced us to take the extraordinary step of closing beach parks entirely or early on certain days to stop these large gatherings,” Cottrell explained.
“Public land is not a free venue for invited crowds and partying.”
Cottrell added other issues that come with large gatherings include discarded rubbish, overwhelmed comfort stations and lack of parking.
“We need more manpower and resources to intervene or prevent these illegal gatherings, and it interferes with our law enforcement from being able to deal with other equally pernicious issues,” Cottrell said. “But you know what? The public could just simply act in a responsible manner, prevent this from happening, and we don’t need law enforcement engagement.”
UH president David Lassner said the school is conducting its own investigation to identify students who may have been involved in the Kaiwi gathering. Thus far, he said it appears the incidents have involved students from multiple Hawaii institutions of higher education, public and private. He urges attendees to get tested, monitor their symptoms and potentially isolate to protect their family and friends.
Redulla asked the public to reach out with tips about illegal gatherings.
“Any time life or property is in danger one should always call 911,” he explained. “As far as violations that occur on DLNR managed lands or DLNR regulated activities, you can always call 643-DLNR and report it.”
“We ask everyone to follow the rules so we can all be safe,” Redulla said.
Gatherings are limited to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors in Honolulu, Maui and Kauai.
In Hawaii County, it is 10 indoors and 10 outdoors.
Masks are required indoors and outdoors in crowded areas statewide.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said he is still waiting for a response from the governor regarding his request for a 72-hour stay-at-home order for Maui County for the holiday weekend.
“At this point in time, I’m just asking the public our visitors alike, everyone to be cognizant of what we’re in and where we are at as far as numbers are concerned and how this weekend can be a super spreader if you don’t take the proper precautions,” Victorino said.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green shared this stern warning:
“If we have another large surge because of people gathering in large numbers, we’re going to be beyond a crisis, we’re going to be in a catastrophe zone,” Green said.
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“Whether the governor or not makes that formal order, do not have gatherings over Labor Day weekend — do not do it.”