Thousands hit Hawaii beaches for first holiday weekend with no mask mandate


WAIMEA BAY, Hawaii (KHON2) — COVID-19 cases during Memorial Day weekend are low in 2021 and social gatherings are still limited to 10 people on Oahu, just like the Memorial Day weekend in 2020.

Memorial Day weekend 2021 is the first holiday weekend without an outdoor mask mandate and it is the first time health officials are not as concerned about a surge in COVID-19 cases to follow.

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Oahu residents say it is the first weekend that things seem to be back to normal. Some say they could not remember what they did for Memorial Day weekend in 2020.

“Honestly, I don’t remember because that probably meant we didn’t do anything,” said Wahiawa resident Chermane Stringfield, who celebrated her nephew’s first birthday at Kaiaka Beach Park in Haleiwa on Saturday, May 29.

“Honestly, I don’t even remember last Memorial Day weekend,” said Oahu resident Chelsea Davis. “It’s just nice to be out and to get back to enjoying all the things that Hawaii has to offer.”

Thousands of residents and visitors did just that and packed beaches and parks and celebrated more than just a holiday, but being able to celebrate birthdays, graduations and more with loved ones once again.

“We can actually gather with our family that was the most challenging thing about living here on Oahu is we’re all about family so having that restriction lifted is very it feels amazing,” said Stringfield.

“And it’s nice to welcome everyone and spend time with everyone and not have to pick and choose who we want to spend the time with so it’s very heart warming,” she continued.

Parking lots at Waimea Bay and Ala Moana Beach Parks were filled early Saturday morning

“We got here at like 9 a.m. because we figured it’s going to be the first weekend everyone’s like feeling a little more free, and I think everyone’s ready to have a good time,” said Oahu resident Sydnee Cummings.

Health officials are not as worried about a surge in cases as they were in 2020 when there was no protection from the virus.

Many residents say they are thrilled to be able to be outside without a mask once again.

“You come here to Hawaii to be outside and enjoy the beaches and not having to worry about all the extra craziness like masks,” said Davis. “I know they are there for safety but it’s nice not having to worry about that and just enjoy the weekend.”

Many said dropping the outdoor mask mandate was a step closer to normal.

“I really don’t think it’s ever going to be the same honestly, but it’s definitely getting better as far as being able to enjoy the freedoms of not having to just leave without your mask, be outside without your mask, or we have options now; so it’s nice to have the option,” she continued.

Some residents were seen with their masks still on at the beach over the holiday weekend.

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