State closes offshore islets and Kaneohe sandbar after crowds gather Easter weekend

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) said it will be closing down closing the Kaneohe sandbar and all offshore islets including the popular Mokulua islands. This comes after crowds were seen gathering there over the Easter weekend.

“There [were] about 75 boats out there when our officers checked. There were several hundred people out there. That’s a lot of people in a very small area,” said Jason Redulla, Chief of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Unit (DOCARE).

The department said 20 warnings were given to boaters at the He’eia Kea Small Boat Harbor for gathering at a time when everyone is being asked to stay at home and social distance.

“These are all things that are prohibited under the governor’s emergency rules,” said Redulla.

Redulla said there will also be additional fines and penalties if caught on an offshore islet.

“With the Mokuluas and all the other offshore islands, they’re all wildlife sanctuaries, and so given its closure at this point, people who violate those closures are subject to a fine and imprisonment or a combination of both,” said Redulla.

He said that’s in addition to the $5,000 dollar fine and that comes with breaking the stay-at-home order.

“It’s their individual responsibility not to cluster up or engage in activities where they cannot properly social distance themselves, and in those cases, we do have to take measures to reduce the risk of exposure to everyone,” said Redulla.

The DLNR said people are also breaking the rules on hiking trails, and there are plans to put a stop to it while the state fights the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It could be having people spot check these locations to make sure that people are complying, it could be placing monitors at various locations such as trail heads or it could mean outright closure,” said Redulla.

Redulla did not say which trails this could be implemented at, but that they’re still looking into what could be done to manage public access in some areas.

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