Critics call city’s ban on all but solo activities at beaches and parks overly strict, unsafe

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 5:06 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 10, 2020 at 5:10 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oahu parks, beaches and hiking trails reopened Thursday, but for individual activities only.

And that’s got some, including Lt. Gov. Josh Green, concerned about safety.

Many who are eager to do outdoor activities again say the new rules don’t make sense.

“I think it’s a little weird just because of the one-person-only rule," Aiea resident Samantha Walls said. “It would be better to have two people go at the same time from the same household. It’s safer."

The new rules say people can only legally visit beaches, parks and hiking trails if they are by themselves. (Those with disabilities are allowed to bring a caregiver.)

“You can’t send a kid out by themselves,” said Green, adding the order doesn’t make medical sense. Household members are already potentially exposing each other.

He also said it’s important to give people an outlet and a taste of normalcy.

“I’m not squawking about the overall plan,” he said.

Others have also come out against solo activities, including hiking.

“For the majority of trails on the island that go into the mountains, either up the ridges or down in the valleys, it really is not safe to hike alone at all and I never recommend that,” said Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club Secretary Ralph Valentino, who has been hiking for 61 years.

“All it takes is one slip and you can be literally only 10 to 12 feet off the trail. But if you’re knocked out, people may not find you. And that has happened."

When asked about the one-person rule, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said it was instituted because it’s a “bright line” and easier to enforce.

“When you talk about the same household and you’re a police officer, how do you know who’s in the same household when you go to enforce?” Caldwell said.

That argument isn’t sitting well with some.

“I’m not sure that it’s actually necessary and I certainly don’t agree with the inconsistencies with the lock downs as they come along,” said Lanikai resident Jeff Hendrix.

The inconsistencies are getting on other people’s nerves as well.

Nearly 11,000 people have signed a petition to reopen hiking trails to families.

Another head scratcher: Parking lots will be reopened, but the parking restrictions in Lanikai are extended until Sept. 23. A city news release said that the measure is "to prevent beachgoers from congregating and gathering in large groups on the Lanikai-Kaohao shoreline.”

“I’ve noticed that Lanikai, the Kailua area does kind of get special treatment which is something to think about why. I think there’s a lot of socio-economic factors that play into that,” Walls said.

Caldwell says he wants to see a steady and consistent decline in cases over the next week or two before he allows more reopenings.

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