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Hawaii island closes beaches, shore parks through Sept. 19

HILO (AP) — Hawaii County has closed all beaches and shoreline parks for part of September in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said the closure went into effect Friday and continue on the Big Island through Sept. 19.

The agency said exercise, fishing, food gathering and restroom and shower facility use will still be permitted, along with access to the ocean.

Democratic Gov. David Ige approved the mayor’s amended rule Wednesday, West Hawaii Today reported.

The county previously announced the closure of scenic Waipio Valley on the north end of the island because of concerns about a lack of resources to enforce COVID-19 safe distancing practices among the large crowds anticipated over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Policies intended to prevent the spread of the virus will be enforced by the Hawaii County Police Department, civil defense said.

“We need everybody to be responsible and follow the preventive policies of face coverings, distancing, and gatherings,” the agency said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.