(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park began reopening access to specific sections of the park on Wednesday, which were previously closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those areas are:
- Mauna Loa Road to Kīpukapuaulu for vehicles, bicyclists and hikers, including Tree Molds. The picnic area will remain closed.
- Mauna Loa Road past Kīpukapuaulu is open for hikers and bicyclists to Mauna Loa Overlook at 6,662 feet, but is closed to vehicles.
- Footprints Trail from Highway 11 to the Ka‘ū Desert Trail and Mauna Iki Trail junction, including the Footprints shelter (1.9 miles one way).
- Escape Road, for bicycling, horseback riding and hiking to the Mauna Ulu junction.
All other areas in the park remain closed at this time, the National Park Service said. Commercial and special use permits continue to be suspended.
“While these areas are accessible for the public to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited,” a National Park Service media release stated.
The decision follows guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, park officials say. The National Park Service says it is working with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
“We have completed thorough risk assessments for the continued safety of our staff and the public, and while we are excited to increase access in areas of the park that allow for social distancing in an outdoor, open-air environment, we are urging each person to be safe to keep us all safe,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Acting Superintendent Rhonda Loh. “If people cannot adhere to the latest health guidelines for their protection and ours, the park may have to close these areas again.”
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park says it will “examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored.”