Hawaii Updates: City Allows Expanded Beach Use; Oahu Retailers Reopen, City Looks At Dine-In Service

May 15, 2020

Updated: 5/15/2020; 8:11 p.m.

City to open beaches with restrictions on gatherings 

Starting tomorrow, beaches and sand bars within the city will be open for activities beyond exercising, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced today. The easing of restrictions followed approval by Gov. David Ige.

No more than 10 people can gather on the beaches and the group needs to be from the same household. Those not part of the same household will need to abide by social distancing requirements, such as standing six feet apart, although a caregiver can accompany a dependent.

The beaches and sand areas will be open from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset, except for shoreline fishing or for those engaged in permitted outdoor exercise. 

Caldwell gave no expiration for the order.

Kauai and Maui have similarly eased restrictions on beaches, but both are doing so under a two-week pilot.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami yesterday clarified what is allowed on the beaches, restrictions for which were eased starting today. People are free to lie, sit and sunbathe under an umbrella or pop-up tent, he said. 

Lifting of restrictions on Maui beaches begin tomorrow with guidelines similar to those for Kauai and Oahu.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino urged people to abide by the rules. He said the county will reassess the easing of restrictions around May 25th. Certain parks on Maui will also reopen starting tomorrow.

Where we stand

Hawaii recorded one new coronavirus cases today, continuing a run of days with zero or few cases that is spurring the moves to reopen the economy.

The state health department reported the number of recorded cases is at 638 after an adjustment and deaths stand at 17. The case count for Oahu is at 414, Maui County at 117, Hawaii Island at 76 and Kauai County at 21. There are 10 cases diagnosed out of state.

Honolulu stores open today under safety guidelines

Honolulu retailers can open up today and restrictions on sports activities are being eased. While Mayor Kirk Caldwell continues to be cautious about the reopening underway on Oahu, he’s now talking about restaurants welcoming diners again – perhaps as soon as next month. 

Mayor Caldwell issued a new city order yesterday allowing some limited uses of public and private outdoor sports fields and courts that have been closed for over a month.

Caldwell says certain one-on-one play is allowed – like singles tennis and pickleball. Group yoga and tai-chi are also permitted, so long as there are fewer than 10 people. But other activities are prohibited.

"You can’t do things like one-on-one basketball. And the reason for that is ... you’re gonna bump up against each other. You’re not going to practice good social distancing," the mayor said.

"These are all about physical distancing. And, of course, wearing masks when you come in to play, and when you’re pau playing – putting your mask back on and leaving. It’s not a place to gather in the park, yet. It’s a place to come and get exercise."

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates

Ige Inclined To Keep Safer-At-Home Order Through June; Kalihi Cluster Could Grow 

Under the latest order, groups can hold drive-in religious or spiritual service events – with special guidelines in place.

Caldwell also says he’s having discussions to possibly resume dine-in restaurant service as soon as June 5th.

"While it’s a ways off, we wanted to start talking about it now, to give that runway that we’ve been told about that restaurants need in order to ramp up, and reopen their business," he said.

"And we saw today at Ala Moana Shopping Center, there are certain businesses that are still not going to be opening up for another week or two. Because they need that time to make the modifications, and rehire employees and take some time. So we want to talk about it today so restaurants know what we’re looking at."

Caldwell says he’s speaking with the governor and restaurant owners about reopening guidelines. The city may also test outdoor dining for eateries next to a sidewalk or park.

But before restaurants can reopen, the mayor has at least one requirement -- the number of new COVID-19 cases on Oahu must continue to remain low. Yesterday, the state reported no new cases, with Honolulu County's case count at 414 with 377 released from isolation.

Caldwell extended Oahu’s emergency order through June 30th generally directing residents to stay and work at home unless they are essential employees or conducting essential business.

--HPR's Casey Harlow 

More connected to Kalihi cluster showing symptoms

More people are showing symptoms in addition to seven residents who tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at Kalihi Valley Homes.

Health Director Bruce Anderson updated state senators on the cluster yesterday.

“We're dealing with an issue right now, you may have read about it on the news at one of our public housing projects where we have lots of people crowded here and it's not an easy issue to deal with," he said. "...We have seven positive cases in that one cluster. And at least a dozen people that I know today that have symptoms that we're following up with, which requires of course follow up and those people need to be isolated.”

Anderson said earlier this week that the cases are challenging because those infected do not speak English. Interpreters needed to be brought in. Some residents mistakenly believed that testing would give them the virus.

He said health officials are educating the residents about COVID-19 and making sure they know to stay in their apartments.

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

Visitors continue to arrive

Another large group of visitors arrived in the islands yesterday. 

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported 858 people came to the islands on Thursday, 252 of them tourists and 318 returning residents. Others include 113 crew members, 100 intended residents, and 75 transiting travelers.

Arrivals are required to undergo a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine, but that has not deterred a steady stream of visitors from coming to the islands since the order took effect in March.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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