Are surfing and other ocean activities safe during a health crisis? Most experts say yes

Updated: Apr. 1, 2020 at 8:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There’s a growing debate over whether surfing should be allowed during the coronavirus pandemic.

A news story from San Diego quotes a scientist who says coronavirus droplets could be spreading in the sea breeze. That scientist hasn’t returned our inquiries.

But Hawaii’s health director, a surfer himself, isn’t buying it.

“I disagree with that,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson.

"I think surfing by its very nature reinforces social distancing.” Professor Miller also says the sea breeze theory is unproven. He also says sunlight is very effective in killing microorganisms, such as the coronavirus.

Hawaii News Now found no hard science tying the spread of COVID-19 to ocean exercise. The risks appear to be the same as anywhere else.

Because of that, University of Hawaii Epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller says the advice is the same: Stay 6 feet away from each other.

At Queen’s surf break in Waikiki, some surfers said people were keeping their distance. Others said they were not. Diamond Head surfers also packed the area for a new south swell.

Some are worried surfing might be banned like it is in parts of Europe.

“That would be pretty bad,” said a surfer named Glen. “I mean that’s your form of exercise. Most people are kinda going stir crazy already.”

Waikiki’s ambassadors have also been wiping down surfaces with cleaning products. And police are making sure no one is lounging or gathering in crowds. But again, surfing is still legal.

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