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Nurse cited in sweep of Little Beach

Officers say beachgoers weren’t keeping distance, wearing masks

The Maui News

One woman was cited for having alcohol in a state park Sunday night when a team of state enforcement officers swept through Little Beach in Makena State Park, finding many beachgoers who weren’t maintaining physical distance or wearing masks, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

At dusk, as the eight Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers began walking down the beach toward an estimated 200 to 225 people at Little Beach, the majority packed up and began hiking back over a small ridge to Big Beach and the parking lot, according to the news release.

Officials said alcohol and drug use, public nudity and littering have been chronic problems at the Sunday night parties and drum circles, which have been held for years.

“While the breaking of rules and laws at Little Beach is always a concern, the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened fears about the potential spread of the virus between unrelated people, partying shoulder to shoulder, nearly all without protective face coverings,” the news release said.

It added that earlier in the pandemic, several cases of coronavirus were traced back to someone who had attended a Sunday drum circle.

The woman cited for having alcohol in the park was a nurse who had just moved to Maui from Colorado, according to the news release. When enforcement Lt. John Yamamoto reminded the woman and her companion about the state’s mandatory mask rules, both quickly put on masks, according to the news release.

“I was very taken aback that a nurse who arrived a week ago spent her first weekend on Maui at a potential superspreader event,” said state parks Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter. “She presumably will be heading into a hospital soon. These are the kinds of actions that are insensitive and inappropriate anywhere, not the least of which at a crowded beach party.”

Two drummers who packed up to leave once the enforcement officers arrived maintained there was no need to worry because COVID-19 infection rates on Maui were much lower than most places on the Mainland.

DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “These are the very types of attitudes and behaviors that could well set us back.”

“We know from all of the expert health and safety advice that large gatherings are potential superspreaders,” he said.

Redulla said the division can’t assign its entire team to control the Sunday night parties at Makena and divert resources from other places and issues.

“All we can ask and hope for is for everyone to follow the rules and laws, and especially now to be respectful of others by practicing personal responsibility,” Redulla said.

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