HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pandemic fatigue has brought more people outdoors and more tourists to the islands.
First responders said they have made more rescues in the first half of 2021 than in 2019 and they are anticipating the Fourth of July holiday weekend to be one of the busiest yet.
Honolulu Ocean Safety officials said the holiday is one of the Department’s busiest days, with most rescues involving heavily intoxicated people. Ocean Safety is expecting 2021 to be even busier with a large swell arriving on the south shores Sunday afternoon through Monday, and jellyfish too.
“We’ve beefed up ski patrols,” explained Honolulu Ocean Safety acting Lt. Dennis Coglietta. “We know that after COVID, people are excited to go out there and we do expect possible large groupings of boats at Waimea Bay, Waikiki, so we do have extra skis operating, we’re going to have fully staffed crews with extra fuel and we’ll be ready to standby from early morning to sunset hours.”
Oahu’s biggest fireworks show has been canceled due to the pandemic for the second year in a row. The only permitted shows will be on military bases, which are not open to the public.
“Avoid using firecrackers they’re combustibles near dry brush, the last thing we want to have is a brush fire ignited that evening right or that day,” said Acting Battalion Chief Ari Agpaoa. “Stay away from any kind of vegetation that may burn and or structures and keep your firecrackers away from your homes, garages etc.”
Honolulu police are also encouraging people to make plans now for getting home safely.
“Speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving, we’re going to be out there, sobriety checkpoints will be set up all over the island, and that’ll be throughout the holiday weekend,” said Lt. James Slayter.
Maui police will be setting up sobriety check points too.
“We don’t want to discourage people from celebrating, we want to discourage people from making bad decisions,” said Lt. William Hankins.
Police will be keeping an eye out for illegal fireworks as well.
Health officials said outdoor gatherings are safer than being indoors with the Delta variant establishing itself in the state.
“If you go to a large gathering unvaccinated, you could definitely catch the virus and it very likely will be the Delta variant,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.