On beach closures, the governor and lieutenant governor aren’t on the same page

Updated: May. 6, 2020 at 6:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite the growing list of businesses and state parks that are set to reopen, Gov. David Ige says Hawaii’s beaches are still off limits for relaxing and sunbathing.

“People can use the parks and beaches for exercise but gatherings are still prohibited," Ige said, during a news conference Wednesday on the coronavirus pandemic.

“So limiting activity at beaches, sunning and collecting is just an extension of our stay-at-home order.”

But disease experts ― and even Lt. Gov. Josh Green ― say there’s little risk to reopening the beaches given the low rate of infections in the state.

“I’m less worried about beaches than crowding at Ala Moana Center and so on," said Tim Brown, senior fellow at the East West Center and an expert in infectious diseases.

“Beaches — at least it’s in the open air and the wind is blowing and the virus will tend to be dispersed,”

Green added:

“Because of our low viral load, you’re going to have a lot less close contact with people at a beach or a park than at a shopping mall or a big box store. Beaches should be another way that we restore normalcy. People need that for psychological health and it’s a big part of our culture here.”

Many, including Green, say they hope the governor scales back ban as soon as next week.

“I think as long as everybody is staying in their own family units as they are now, I think it would be fine to have your beach chair, to have your towel on the beach," said Layne Braden, a Hickam resident.

Ken Bjorn of Kakaako added: “To me it’s like a no-brainer ―if you’re maintaining distance and being safe."

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