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Honolulu Council Greenlights Extended Lifeguard Hours Beginning 2021

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City lifeguard services would be available sunrise to sunset by July 2021 under a measure headed to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell's desk.

Bill 39 calls for the city emergency services director to develop a plan for the extended lifeguard hours. The plan would be due to the City Council by Jan. 1, 2021 and the longer hours would be implemented six months later.

Lifeguards now work from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but increasing numbers of visitors have raised concerns that city beaches are unprotected during early and late hours.

“Our ocean is dangerous and to make sure that we’re a really great destination, we need to make sure our visitors that come here – as well as our local residents – are safe,” said Jim Howe, city emergency services director, in a news release from Council member Kymberly Pine, who introduced the bill.

About 20 percent of emergencies occur outside of the standard hours worked by lifeguards, according to the release. A pilot program with lifeguards working 10-hour shifts "saved lives, boosted employee morale, reduced workers compensation claims and use of sick leave." 

Howe told HPR earlier this week that the cost of the extended hours hasn't yet been determined. The city administration supported the intent of the bill but raised concerns about the cost of the program. 

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