A three-night restriction on driving will go into effect for Oahu on Friday night, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard announced Thursday.
The rules, which officials are calling a curfew, prohibit people from driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The curfew ends at 5 a.m. Monday, city officials said.
People can still leave their homes and walk around the island — just not drive.
“No vehicles, that includes cars, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, tricycles, anything with a wheel won’t be allowed on roads,” Ballard said during a news conference Thursday.
Although the nightly restriction is expected to end Monday, Ballard said it could be extended to April 30. Some activities would not be subject to the driving ban like traveling for work or picking up medications.
Ballard said grocery shopping would be prohibited during the nightly curfews, however.
Police don’t have plans to set up roadblocks, but Ballard said that they will have an increased presence over the weekend. Police will stop drivers to ask why they are on the roads, Ballard said.
If a driver is stopped, they should let officers know that they are essential workers traveling for work, according to the department. HPD won’t require workers to show their employee identification.
The state attorney general’s office has previously said that documents would not be necessary to prove a person is driving to work. The AG’s office also recommended against a statewide policy instituting such a requirement.
While Oahu residents can’t drive, they could still walk, though Ballard discouraged that.
“We’d prefer you don’t walk because of the hours involved,” Ballard said. “But if you aren’t on wheels, you will be safe.”
Mateo Caballero, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, said in a written statement that law enforcement should be careful with how it enforces the curfew since the public was given about 24 hours notice.
Caballero said the ACLU still needs to review the restrictions, but questioned why they are being imposed in the first place.
“At this point, we have several questions about the exceptions and the reasoning behind the curfew, which as far as we know no public health official has called for,” Caballero said.
It was not immediately clear how the city came to the decision to implement the driving restrictions.
Civil Beat asked for the underlying data used to make the decision to restrict driving as well as the city’s reasons for those restrictions.
Alexander Zannes, the city spokesman, said in an email that the administration is still monitoring data and recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health.
“The purpose of this curfew is to further discourage non-essential travel during this period, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Zannes said. “We do think that the curfew will translate into more social distancing, which is the goal.”
As for HPD, police “hope that it will discourage large gatherings over the holiday weekend,” department spokeswoman Michelle Yu said.
Kauai has been under a nightly curfew since March 18, with police setting up checkpoints around the island. People are not allowed to leave their houses between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
There are no checkpoints planned for Oahu, Ballard said.
Honolulu police also plan to ramp up enforcement at beach parks to make sure no one is on the sand. People are still allowed in the water, however.
Caldwell said the city is rolling out the extra enforcement measures to discourage people from moving about over the three-day Easter weekend.
“We are concerned more people will think it’s time to go out,” Caldwell said during the press conference. “We don’t want that to happen.”
Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell