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Commercial watersports can resume only at state facilities

DLNR gives green light with restrictions

Commercial watersports operators, including surf schools and kayak rentals, can resume but only on state beaches, state and county officials said Wednesday.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Wednesday the easing of some COVID-19-related restrictions to commercial and recreational ocean activities. Boaters can now host up to 10 people on a vessel at a time, including passengers and crew members. The 10-person limit can be exceeded if everyone is from the same household.

Businesses, such as surf schools and kayak rental companies, also can resume operations with the same 10-person limit, DLNR said in a news release. Maintaining social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands are required when practical.

But Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said Wednesday afternoon that he will need to review the state rules and “get clarification” as to which beaches fall under the rules.

Managing Director Sandy Baz said Wednesday that commercial activities remain off limits at county beach parks “until a decision has been made and we request a change from the governor.”

And even when commercial activities resume at county beaches and parks, they still will be prohibited on Sundays and holidays, Victorino said. The mayor imposed the restrictions on commercial activity in January 2019.

The DLNR announcement did not specify whether commercial tours, under the social distancing rules, would be allowed for Molokini. An attempt to reach DLNR officials late Wednesday afternoon was unsuccessful.

The DLNR also announced that Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation offices across the state would reopen today. Visitors will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing. Hand sanitizers or disinfectant wipes will be available.

Barriers have been built to separate staff from visitors. There will be frequent hand washing and disinfection of high use areas.

For more information about commercial boating and watersports operation restrictions, visit dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/ covid-19-dobor-response/.

During the media update, Baz discussed the state’s economic reopening and reshaping strategy. The state road map to recovery and resiliency includes four phases: stabilization, reopening, long-term recovery and resilience.

Hawaii is currently in phase two, which includes an emphasis on strengthening and promoting the kamaaina economy. This involves reopening interisland travel without quarantine restrictions on June 16, expanding testing, implementing robust contact tracing and securing safe isolation spots, he said.

Community, public health and the economy are “analyzed before any decision is made.”

“Basically, the whole world shut down because of this virus, so as we move forward, we want to make sure we’re doing so in the best manner possible, that’s safe,” he said. “We will recover.”

There is only one positive COVID-19 case currently at Maui Memorial Medical Center. Only 7 percent of the county’s ventilators are in use and only 50 percent of ICU beds are occupied, which is “very good,” he said.

“I’m looking upon the horizon, and I’m excited,” Victorino said.

To view the full strategy, visit recoverynavigator.hawaii.gov/reopening-status/#detailed-strategy.

In other developments

• The Hana Highway checkpoints and roadblocks will be reestablished by Friday and will remain until June 24 and “probably longer,” depending on how long the National Guard will be stationed on Maui, Victorino said.

• Office of Economic Development will hold a grants training workshop via BlueJeans beginning at 1 p.m. June 17. The workshop will assist qualified nonprofit and for-profit organizations that administer viable programs, projects and/or events that provide a positive economic impact in the county. The workshop comes as Victorino’s request for $12.4 million in grants funding for fiscal year 2020-21 for the office is pending final approval before the Maui County Council.

• The 2020 hunting lottery for mouflon sheep on Lanai has been canceled by the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife. The usual season will be modified in order to create a combined season for both mouflon sheep and axis deer. Commencement of the hunt is dependent on the lifting of travel restrictions, adherence to social distancing guidelines and the health and safety of both DLNR staff and Lanai community. For more information, visit dlnr.hawaii.gov/blog/2020/06.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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