Honolulu mayor signs bill to extend lifeguard hours

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a bill extending lifeguard service hours from dawn to sundown.

Caldwell signed the measure Thursday with the new hours expected to begin July 1, 2021.

Current lifeguard hours at most beaches are from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., officials said.

“As every lifeguard knows, to save a life you have to be flexible, strong, and adaptable, and that’s exactly what this bill does,” Caldwell said in a statement.

Honolulu Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services oversees 200 miles of coastline extending up to 1 mile offshore at more than 70 beach parks.

“Once this program is fully implemented, our residents and visitors can be assured that when you go to the beach anytime during daylight hours, our highly skilled lifeguards will be there if you need help, leading to more lives being saved,” said Jim Howe, director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.

Howe must submit program details and a budget for the extended hours to the city council by Jan. 1, 2021.

The text of the bill introduced by Councilor Kymberly Pine noted increased demand for lifeguard services because of increasing use of Oahu’s beaches by residents and visitors.

The city instituted sunup-to-sundown coverage at Hanauma Bay Natural Preserve in February as a pilot project at the popular snorkeling spot, officials said.