Hawaii Volcanoes National Park began increasing public access May 20, opening some roads and trails for visitors after a March 22 closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Park Service left it up to park administrators and local authorities to decide on how to proceed during the crisis, and while many parks did close, some never did. The NPS is working with federal, state and local public health authorities to monitor the pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

The areas of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park now open include: Mauna Loa Road to Kipukapuaulu for vehicles, bicyclists and hikers; Mauna Loa Road past Kipukapuaulu for hikers and bicyclists to Mauna Loa Overlook; the roughly 2-mile one-way Footprints Trail from Highway 11 to the Kau Desert Trail and Mauna Iki Trail junction; and Escape Road, for bicycling, horseback riding and hiking to the Mauna Ulu junction.

The remainder of the park remains closed at this time, and commercial and special use permits continue to be suspended.

"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," Hawaii Volcanoes National Park acting superintendent Rhonda Loh said in a statement. "If people cannot adhere to the latest health guidelines for their protection and ours, the park may have to close these areas again."

The opening of other areas and facilities will take place in phases, the statement said, as the park staff continue to assess the public health data along with taking guidance from local and federal authorities.


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