Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim is planning a temporary ban on gatherings at beach parks around Hawaii island for the holiday weekend and beyond in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Kim said Tuesday he is asking Gov. David Ige to authorize a ban on gatherings at beach and shoreline parks during the Labor Day weekend and for the following week, from Friday until Sept. 19. The current county policy limits gatherings to 10 people inside and 10 outside, he said.

“Because of the holiday coming up, and we are having problems in regards to the gathering and the distancing and face masks, especially at the beaches, so I’m asking the governor to put the beach areas as off limits during the holidays,” Kim said.

Fishing and swimming would still be allowed at the shoreline, and people would still be allowed to exercise. Restrooms will be kept open, but no gatherings, he said.

“We want to prevent any kind of surge getting out of control, and that’s a special holiday beach time, and we’ve been having people getting too lax on it, so better they be mad at me than we be sorry we didn’t,” Kim said of the beach restrictions.

Hawaii County Civil Defense says there are now 180 active COVID-19 cases in Hawaii County, with many of them in the Hilo area. As of Tuesday morning, 11 people were hospitalized with the virus, and there had been three deaths of elderly men at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo.

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