Weekend parties leave Oahu beaches trashed and raise concerns about spread of virus

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 4:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - On this Memorial Day, as the nation honors fallen service members, some soldiers could be in trouble for breaking all kinds of rules at the beach.

Just after 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Honolulu police responded to Kaena Point State Park and found close to 200 people crowded around a bonfire Mokuleia Beach.

Social media videos show wooden pallets being burned on the sand. Open fires on Hawaii beaches are illegal.

And that wasn’t the only law being broken. The party that had been advertised on social media was in blatant violation of the state’s emergency order restricting large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Police sources say the majority of people who showed up were members of the military.

No one was issued a citation, but before they could leave Honolulu police and state conservation officers made partygoers carry out what was carried in.

“I think it’s great that they actually held these people to it. And made them clean up their mess,” said beachgoer Stephen Jackson.

Others agreed.

Ryan Roberts arrived at the park around 7 a.m. Monday morning.

“I had absolutely no clue there was a party here,” he said. “There’s no rubbish on the beach.”

Officials from the state Department of Land and Natural resources say it was the third party at the area known as “Big Camp Site” this weekend.

On Friday and Saturday, revelers left a fire pit littered with rubbish and didn’t even bother taking down their campsite. Down the road at Waimea Bay, large crowds gathered Saturday afternoon.

Videos submitted to user HungryHungryHawaiian on Instagram looked pre-pandemic. Everyone packed in tight together, leaving the beach trashed.

“If they’re infected all they have to do is be talking,” said epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller.

He says it’s this kind of activity that could trigger a new wave of the coronavirus in the islands.

“We’ve worked so hard to get here,” said Miller. “And we’re going to sacrifice it because of some people who are very self-centered and selfish.”

In the meantime, military officials say they’ve seen the videos circulating online and are investigating. Now they’re reminding all service members that violating the state’s emergency rules “can result in punitive action."

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