HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Oahu, no lifeguards were on duty Thursday following the announcement of closures of city parks and facilities.
City officials confirmed that the beach parks are closed, but they cannot restrict people from going into the water. People going for a swim are technically allowed to walk through the park to reach the water’s edge, but the city is hoping everyone will heed community leaders’ orders to stay home.
The Honolulu Emergency Services Department called Thursday’s absence from the shores as a “safety stand-down” because crews did not have the proper equipment to protect themselves from a person who may be potentially infected with COVID-19.
“The issue here is that this is a droplet air virus and when we put a mask on someone to do positive pressure, it may spray the virus up and so this is why we need the N95 mask, the goggles, so that our employees don’t get the virus while they are using the positive pressure oxygen,” Emergency Services Director Jim Howe said.
They will be back out Friday. Personnel will be in mobile response operations mode. That means lifeguard towers will be closed, but personnel will be monitoring the shores from trucks with rescue capabilities.
The closures of the beach parks is worrying some, especially senior citizens.
Seniors like 94-year-old Lehua McCologan, who took a dip in Ala Moana Beach waters Thursday. She goes there five days a week for exercise and aqua therapy.
“It’s really going to affect me because I want to come to the beach everyday. That’s my exercise, that’s what’s keeping me alive,” she said.
She worries that if her ride isn’t allowed to park in the stalls at the beach park, getting to the shoreline will be too strenuous for her.
“My mother told me when I was growing up, ‘Go to the ocean. The ocean water is healing.’ So I remember what she said and I go to the ocean water.”
Others believe the parks should remain open for people to get in exercise and get fresh air, as long as they are social distancing and staying at least six feet away from each other.