Residents, visitors wary of closures to outdoor spaces

  • Beachgoers relax at Magic Sands Friday afternoon. (Tom Linder/West Hawaii Today)

  • A couple watches the sun set in Kailua Village Friday evening. (Tom Linder/West Hawaii Today)

As Hawaii County waits for Gov. David Ige to approve Mayor Mitch Roth’s proposed new restrictions aimed at slowing the current surge of COVID, residents and tourists alike have expressed concern with some of the suggestions.

While an informal survey of those out and about on a Saturday afternoon by no means represents a scientific poll, wariness of closures to public spaces seemed to form as a consensus opinion among those willing to give their thoughts. Even many who were in favor of stricter rules questioned why beaches and parks might be closed.

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“Outside, where there’s really not a threat of picking up the virus?” asked Jessica Atkins, a visitor from Oregon. “You’re outside in the sun in clean air. That seems crazy to me. Totally crazy. Please don’t do that.”

“I’m not sure how I feel about the outdoor restrictions, given what the CDC has recommended,” added fellow visitor Nelson Dupre of Massachusetts. “Indoors, I understand.”

The sentiment was echoed by a handful of Big Island residents and parents, as well.

“If you can sit down at a restaurant and take your mask off and eat, the kids, why do they have to wear it all day at school?” asked Taj Johnson, a parent from Keauhou. “It just makes it that much harder to take the kids to the park, the beach. Healthy, outdoor activities. Why would you restrict healthy outdoor activities?”

A handful of softball players, who chose not to be named, all agreed that they’d prefer parks and beaches to remain open. While Anthony Thue, a relatively new resident to the Big Island, was for restrictions if they were for the benefit of everyone, he acknowledged they would likely have less of an impact on him than many others.

“I can still work; I can still sit outside on the lanai,” he said. “It may affect other people, and other people are going to have more of a backlash.”

Many tourists in Kailua Village wondered how the remainder of their vacations would play out with beaches suddenly declared off limits.

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“For us, one of the big draws coming to Hawaii is going to the beaches,” said Nick Hudson. “It would be disappointing to not be able to go.”

Approval of Roth’s proposed restrictions is expected to come from Ige this week.

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