Officials threaten to close more state parks if people continue large gatherings

Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 10:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - State officials are threatening more enforcement on Hawaii’s beaches and at state parks after seeing large gatherings on shorelines over the weekend.

“This weekend I happened to have the opportunity to have gone to several of beaches around Hawaii and I was amazed at the number of people on the beaches without face coverings who were not physical distancing,” said Hawaii Health Director Bruce Anderson.

On Maui, officials estimate about 100 people gathered for a drum circle at Little Beach in Makena State Park on Sunday evening.

Both on Maui and Oahu, gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.

State officers cleared the crowd at Little Beach but didn’t cite anyone, making several residents upset.

“They didn’t do anything. They were just the nice guys making sure that everybody picked up their stuff and left when they were supposed to leave. That’s it. That’s all they did,” said Angela Keen with Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers.

Little Beach is known as a nude beach.

Department of Land and Natural Resources officials said it is a decades old battle that is getting more worrisome because of the pandemic.

“There’s underage drinking, there’s drugs, there’s the nudity issues and now the concern about the spread,” said DLNR State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell.

Maui's District Health Officer said about half a dozen COVID-19 cases are linked to large beach parties.

Because of the limited amounted of DLNR officers, Cottrell said leaders could shut down beach parks again, like they did at Polihale State Park on Kauai.

"Until we can figure out a way for people to behave responsibly and establish some kind of limit, the only alternative is to, for now, shut down," Cottrell said.

“We won’t and don’t want to go back to ‘stay-at-home’ unless it’s absolutely the last resort,” said Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino.

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