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The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board are Pierre Omidyar, Patti Epler, Nathan Eagle, Chad Blair, Jessica Terrell, Julia Steele and Lee Cataluna. Opinions expressed by the editorial board reflect the group’s consensus view. Chad Blair, the Politics and Opinion Editor, can be reached at cblair@civilbeat.org.

Here we go again. Again.

On Tuesday Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell managed to both confuse and anger citizens by telling them that — illogically, inanely — they must go it alone when visiting the island’s many parks, beaches and trails.

No children to accompany parents, even though they already share the same household and vehicle. No couples and families enjoying a little fresh air and sunshine after six months of masks and shields. Hikers going solo on our often dangerous trails.

This has no basis in science, let alone common sense. We urge the mayor to quickly amend the orders so that — at minimum — either members of the same household are allowed to participate in these activities together, or at least children are allowed to accompany adults.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council chair Ikaika Anderson during press conference announcing the Primary Election Official Ballot drop box at Kaneohe District park. There will be 7 other locations around Oahu.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council Chair Ikaika Anderson at a press conference in July. The mayor’s latest orders on COVID-19 restrictions have baffled many. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

The latest orders take effect early Thursday and last through Sept. 23. It’s a continuation of the stay-at-home, work-at-home order that Caldwell put in place (with Gov. David. Ige’s blessing) just two weeks ago in order to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic.

It’s also an unfortunate and confounding continuation of our government issuing conflicting, inconsistent and sometimes ill-advised instructions on how to survive COVID-19. Judging by the eruption on social media following Caldwell’s announcement, most people are completely bewildered by what they are being asked to do or not do.

Count us among the bewildered. While the orders are no doubt well-intended, one wonders whether there is anyone in the Caldwell and Ige administrations around to ask common-sense questions about whether it makes any sense to order folks to use the parks, beaches and trails without others.

We saw the same lack of clarity when earlier this year Ige closed state beaches but later clarified that people could cross beaches to go swimming and fishing, as long as social distancing was honored.

Caldwell and Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard ordered a curfew over the three-day Easter Weekend — “anything with a wheel won’t be allowed on roads,” said Ballard, and no grocery shopping allowed between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Thank goodness that prohibition wasn’t extended, as was proposed at the time.

Just last month Caldwell, again with Ige’s nod, shut down taxpayer-funded outdoor spaces like beaches, parks and hiking trails but allowed indoor businesses including gyms, tattoo shops and massage parlors to remain open, with restrictions.

Key City Officials

This, even though there was no evidence that spread of COVID-19 was being driven by outdoor activities. An infectious disease epidemiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School said Honolulu’s rules were very misguided.

Even Caldwell acknowledged Tuesday, “We do believe outdoors is safer than indoors. We’ve said that repeatedly.”

But then, the mayor also said that the “safest place” for our incarcerated population is to stay in jails and prisons rather than for some nonviolent offenders to be granted early release. The jail on Oahu is today the state’s hottest spot for viral outbreaks.

When the mayor now says that the reason for the new solitary restrictions is not about COVID-19 “but instead about making it easier for the Honolulu Police Department to enforce,” as Civil Beat reported, it makes many of us question whether the mayor has his priorities straight.

Most of the people of Hawaii have willingly made great sacrifices at the government’s request over these past six months. It’s especially encouraging to see the number of cases on Oahu dropping this week. And the state’s testing on H-3 this week has rightly been hailed as a success.

But we are running out of patience with ridiculous demands like the solo marching orders. Come on, Mayor Caldwell and Gov. Ige — enough with the mystifying commands. Amend the latest orders for Oahu, and please give much more serious thought to their impact next time.

Read this next:

Neal Milner: The Pandemic Is Teaching Us A Lesson About Trust That We Shouldn't Ignore

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About the Author

Civil Beat Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board are Pierre Omidyar, Patti Epler, Nathan Eagle, Chad Blair, Jessica Terrell, Julia Steele and Lee Cataluna. Opinions expressed by the editorial board reflect the group’s consensus view. Chad Blair, the Politics and Opinion Editor, can be reached at cblair@civilbeat.org.

Latest Comments (0)

Went to Ala Moana beach park this weekend with my partner, and we socially distanced and wore masks as requested. Yet, right in the middle of the park was a Trump rally with at least 80 people not wearing masks nor social distancing. HPD said it was their right to protest, if they follow the social distance guideline, yet the protesters were not following the order. Across the park road, we observed a family (parents with 2 children) get scolded by police on ATVs. Additionally, the HPD was driving through the park in a large ATV group at top speed, which is completely unnecessary, especially when not doing their job to enforce the solo activity mandate. Pretty disappointing to see this in Hawaii. 

Rooni · 3 years ago

The amazing thing is that some military golf courses and tennis courts are open.  There may be other activities that are open on base but I can confirm these 2 outdoor activities.  I guess they don't have to listen to the illogical and paranoid decisions from our Mayor and Governor.  Good for them!

Kenshiro · 3 years ago

While reading this article I had a flashback!! A CB's Kirstin Downey article, back in June 6, 2019-"Kailua Community leaders want to break up with Honolulu." Hmmm.

NanStudio · 3 years ago

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