LIHUE – Kaua‘i beaches are reopening on Friday, according to a Wednesday announcement by Mayor Derek Kawakami, who has also announced an extension of the mandatory quarantine for incoming travelers through June 30th.
Kawakami announced Emergency Rule 8, reopening beaches and 9, extending the quarantine, on Wednesday.
Under the new rules, individuals and families are allowed to use the beaches more casually and people can sunbathe, sit on the sand and eat on the beach and people are allowed to be on the beach/sand area from a half hour before sunlight to a half hour after sunset.
But, people can only congregate in groups of 10 or less and have to be part of the same household. Social distancing requirements must be followed for all people on the beach who aren’t part of the same household.
Beaches or sand area may only be used a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset, unless a person is engaged in shoreline fishing or permitted outdoor exercise, and all the rules in Governor Ige’s Safer At Home order are still in effect.
Lihue resident, Nannie Apalla is ready for some beach time.
“I think its good news, we can spend some time outdoors, to get some fresh air with our families in a different setting instead of indoors,” said Apalla. “That has been the top of conversations, and we ask what are some alternatives for ourselves to stay mentally healthy?”
She continues: “Most of us are anxious for long periods of times staying in one place or being in a space for a long period of time takes a toll. I also think we should follow the rules so we can move forward and we don’t want to ruin it for others, all it takes is one person to ruin it for all of us.”
Apalla said she thinks the Mayor Kawakami and his team are doing their due diligence and she is confident in his leadership.
The new beach rules have also gotten cautious approval from public health officials like Kauai District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman, who reiterated safety precautions on Wednesday.
“The last couple of months have been very hard on our residents, and the Mayor’s new rule allowing safe beach activities is welcome. I emphasize the word ‘safe’,” Berreman said Wednesday.
She continued: “Visits to the beach need to have a new normal: only gathering with members of our immediate household; not gathering in groups of more than 10 people; not sharing potluck food and drinks; and keeping a distance of 6 feet from people who are not part of our immediate household. Within those safe practices, a day at the beach will be a welcome change for many of us.”
Even though Emergency Rule No. 8 reopens the beaches and relaxes restrictions, Kawakami said he’s not encouraging people to hold potlucks or barbecue on the beach.
A county spokesperson clarified that part of the rule on Wednesday, saying “As we know that sharing food with people you don’t live with increases risk of spreading the virus.”
Additionally, Mayor Kawakami announced Emergency Rule 9 Wednesday, which extends the mandatory quarantine for incoming travelers through June 30.
According to the county, those traveling for health care purposes, as long as they wear appropriate protective gear and keep social distance, are exempt from the quarantine. Those traveling to perform critical infrastructure work, as identified in the Governor’s proclamation, are still subject to the quarantine, but are allowed to break quarantine only to perform those essential work functions.
“We have taken temporary control over the coronavirus with our aggressive restrictions, and we feel we can begin to ease them in a responsible manner,” said Mayor Kawakami. “That said, the risk of the virus returning is most clearly associated with incoming travelers, whether residents or visitors, so we feel it is necessary to extend the mandatory quarantine.”
“In order for us to continue to reopen our businesses and activities while keeping each other safe, we all must exercise self-discipline to follow CDC guidelines of social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and cleaning surfaces often,” urged Mayor Kawakami.
As a reminder, all individuals in the State of Hawai‘i are subject to Governor Ige’s emergency proclamations and Safer at Home order.
View the Gov. Ige’s proclamations and the Mayor Kawakami’s emergency rules: www.kauai.gov/COVID-19.