HILO — Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has opened for limited use as the attraction begins a phased reopening plan following its closure because of the coronavirus.
Several trails and roads were reopened to the public Wednesday, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.
The reopened areas include sections of Mauna Loa Road, Footprints Trail and Escape Road.
The limited access is the first phase of a gradual, multi-phase reopening of the national park, which closed in March to limit the spread of COVID-19, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said.
“The park managers have done a very thorough risk assessment for a phased reopening,” Ferracane said. “But there is still no timeline for when phase two will happen.”
The public can access the reopened areas of the park free of charge, Ferracane said.
The reopened sections remain subject to restrictions similar to limitations on activities at state and county parks, Ferracan said.
The park selected the trails to reopen after determining they were best suited to maintain social isolation between hikers, Ferracane said.
Footprints Trail is open in one direction, while the other reopened trails are wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic, Ferracane said.
Groups of more than two hikers are prohibited unless each member of the group is part of the same residential or family unit. Hikers not in the same group must maintain a distance of 20 feet (6.1 meters) and cloth masks are encouraged but not required, Ferracan said.
The park may have to close the reopened areas again “if people cannot adhere to the latest health guidelines for their protection and ours,” Acting Superintendent Rhonda Loh said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.