Thousands pack beaches over Memorial Day weekend

Coronavirus

Thousands of people went to beaches across the state on Memorial Day weekend.

On Friday, state health officials reminded the public that social distancing guidelines were still in effect, and large group gatherings were not allowed.

Some people followed those rules, others did not.

Under Governor David Ige’s emergency order, gatherings of 10 or more people are not allowed and require six-feet social distancing unless they are members of the same family or household.

On Saturday, hundreds of people went to Waimea Bay and noted social distancing guidance was not being followed.

Courtney Meyer of Kahaluu said she goes to Waimea Bay every Sunday with her family. She said she was appalled by the videos circulating on social media of the large crowds and witnessed the amount of trash left behind first hand.

On Sunday morning she said she saw two City and County trucks load away two truck loads of rubbish from Waimea Bay.

“It was just really dirty, the water was dirty, it was really pilau,” she said.

“We haven’t played in three months and this was the first time coming and playing in a while and to find it dirty was really frustrating because we did our time, we waited and we had to come and clean up,” Meyer said.

She said many people obeyed the quarantine rules and doesn’t want to see beaches closed again.

“We’re still coming to the beach and practicing social distancing and playing and doing our part but it would be nice to see everyone else do their part too,” she said.

“We don’t want the ban to go back into effect, we waited our time and we’re all excited,” she said. “I know everyone’s excited to get back to the beach but we still have to do our part and follow the rules and do what we need to do to make sure we can go back to being fully open.”

The large crowds also kept lifeguards busy.

“The majority of our rescues have happened at our beach parks where we have permanent lifeguard stations, and mainly due to the surf coming up creating hazardous conditions, the large crowds of people has kept us on our toes,” said Lt. Kerry Atwood, Honolulu Ocean Safety.

On Saturday, DOCARE officers cited a Waianae man who was operating a thrillcraft at Kaneohe Sandbar which is not allowed. He was also cited for allowing his underage son to operate the craft.

On Sunday, DLNR officers said they observed 35 boats at Kaneohe Sandbar on Saturday and all boats were following the distancing guidelines.

Ocean Safety said they are preparing for one more day of large crowds but warned people to know their limits.

“Definitely swim where there is a lifeguard tower, check with a lifeguard, observe warning signs, abide by lifeguard warnings and definitely know your limits carelessness does cost lives,” said Lt. Atwood.

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