Covid-19 – DOBOR Response

Covid-19 artist rendering

IMPORTANT NOTICE EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 13, 2021:

Pursuant to Governor’s Executive Order 21-07, all persons wishing to enter any State offices must provide evidence of being fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

  • Any persons who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test issued within 72 hours of entering.
  • Any persons who do not comply will be denied access.
  • Vaccine and testing requirements do not apply to persons making deliveries (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.) and persons under 12 years old.

View the full text of Executive Order 21-07 here.

OCEAN/HARBOR USERS AND TENANTS

To inhibit the spread of Covid-19, the following preventive measures have been put in place, effective immediately, and will remain in effect until further notice:

  • The Hilo State Office Building in downtown Hilo will be open to the public as of 7/1/21.  Wearing a mask and social distancing is still required if you are planning to visit the Wailoa SBH office.  See Q3 for details on this page.
  • All DOBOR facilities are open to the public as of 6/4/20 but visitors are required to adhere to safety requirements. Emergency rules imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic for boating and commercial ocean recreation remain in effect.
  • Payment for monthly mooring fees can be mailed to the appropriate harbor office.
  • Vessel registration and vessel transfers can be made in person at DOBOR District offices and at the Wailoa SBH Office in Hilo but visitors must follow posted safety guidelines. Vessel registration/transfers can also be made via mail to DLNR/DOBOR, Vessel Registration Branch, 4 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96819.  Owners of vessels 26′ and over may need to submit proof of insurance to unlock their accounts to re-register on-line. For details, email [email protected]
  • DOBOR’s Ke`ehi SBH office is only open to the public Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during regular business hours. 

The public may call the appropriate district and harbor offices with questions and monitor the DOBOR web site at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/ for updates.

 

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MOST RECENT UPDATES TO THIS PAGE:

6/17/21 Q3. Oahu County recreational and commercial boating moves to no limits carrying capacity. 6 pax and COI vessels: No capacity limits.

6/3/21 Q3.  The Hilo State Building will be open to the public beginning 7/1/21 improving access to DOBOR’s Wailoa SBH office. 

6/1/21 Q5. Hawai`i County recreational and commercial boating moves to 100% carrying capacity

6/1/21 Q1. Effective June 1, 2021, DOBOR will resume issuing marine event permits for ocean sport competitions.  See Q1 for details.  

 

PAST UPDATES

3/4/21 Q5. The distance that must be maintained between recreational vessels has been changed to a minimum of six feet.  This applies to all counties.  See table in Q5.

2/25/21 DOBOR’s Hawai`i District Office and Honokohau SBH Office are open to the public once again Monday-Friday from 8am to 4pm as of Monday, March 1, 2021 except for State holidays.   Both offices had been closed to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays.  

2/25/21 Q6. Jerome Nickerson is DOBOR’s new Hawai`i District Manager.  He is the new contact for domestic/international vessels visiting Hawai`i Island that are required to comply with Covid-19 restrictions.

2/25/21 Q5. Honolulu transitioned to Tier 3 restrictions as of 12:01 am Thursday, February 25, 2021.  The transition allows commercial vessels to increase to 50% of carrying capacity.   See press release announcing changeover and table detailing vessel capacity under Tier 3 restrictions in Q5 below. 

2/3/21 Q12. New statement on mask requirements for commercial vessels operating in Hawai`i.

10/16/20 Q5.  DOBOR has updated restrictions that pertain to uninspected commercial 6pax vessels on this page.

10/06/20 Q9.  Commercial Permits – Operational guidance from counties posted.  

9/24/20 Q2, Q5, Q8 & Q9. DLNR issues new O`AHU guidelines for use of State Parks, Trails and for Boating during Covid-19. Access to Ahu O Laka (aka the Sandbar) and offshore islets restored.

8/25/20 Q5. Oahu Mayor’s Emergency Order No. 2020-25 identifies essential on-the-water operations, prohibits non-essential operation. 

8/7/20 The passenger limit for vessels has been modified. 

8/7/20 Ahu O Laka (aka the Sandbar in Kane`ohe Bay) and islands in waters surrounding O`ahu are closed as of midnight 8/7/20. 

6/30/20 Recreational and commercial vessels can now carry up to 50% of their capacity.  Social distancing and sanitation requirements for commercial vessels still apply.  Read the press release issued by DLNR.

6/19/20 DOBOR will review Marine Event Permits on a case by case basis.

6/12/20 DOBOR Hilo office is open for business even though State building in Hilo is closed.  DOBOR Incoming Vessel Declaration form has been updated.

6/3/20 All DOBOR facilities are open to the public.  Visitors must wear a mask.  Only one visitor may enter a lobby at a time.  Social distancing is required.  PLEASE READ ALL POSTS AT DOBOR FACILITIES BEFORE ENTERING. THESE SAFEGUARDS ARE IN PLACE FOR YOUR PROTECTION AND FOR THE PROTECTION OF DOBOR STAFF. Emergency rule restricting number of passengers on a single boat has been revised.  Commercial Vessel and Commercial Watersports permittees may resume operation, provided that all requirements are met. 

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE
DOBOR SHUTDOWN DUE TO COVID-19

GENERAL INFO

Q1. What is the current status of Marine Event Permits?  Is DOBOR accepting applications now that things are opening up again?

Effective 6/1/21: DOBOR will resume issuing marine event permits for ocean sport competitions that includes surfing, canoeing, swimming, etc, in accordance with public health and safety protocols are followed to protect our communities, contestants and spectators. Applications can be found on the DOBOR form page

MOST RECENT RESTRICTION: DOBOR will review Marine Event Permits on a case by case basis.  As a condition of these permits, event organizers must adhere to all existing State and County (Covid-19) requirements for boating and gatherings on land. 

 

Q2. Is access to offshore islets and Ahu O Laka (aka the Sandbar in Kane`ohe Bay, waters off O`ahu) closed?

Access to Ahu O Laka and offshore islets has been restored as of 9/24/20.  

MOST RECENT RESTRICTION: In order to maintain consistency with the City and County of Honolulu’s closures of parks and beaches, all islands in waters surrounding O‘ahu will be closed beginning at midnight, 8/7/20.  Ahu O Laka, aka the Sandbar in Kane`ohe Bay, will also be closed.  Landing of boats, kayaks, or any other watercraft on these islands or the Sandbar is prohibited.   Read the press release.

 

Q3. The State building in Hilo (75 Aupuni Street) is closed.  How am I supposed to visit DOBOR’s Wailoa office to process permits, etc.?

The Hilo State Office Building in downtown Hilo will be open to the public as of 7/1/21.  Wearing a mask and social distancing is still required if you are planning to visit the Wailoa SBH office.  Hours of operation for the Wailoa office: daily from 10am to 12:30pm and from 1:30pm to 3:30pm, excluding weekends and State holidays.  

MOST RECENT RESTRICTION: East Hawai`i Boaters that need to conduct business with DOBOR in person may call or fax the Wailoa Sampan Basin and Boat Harbor at Ph: (808) 933-0414 Fax: (808) 933-0415 to make an appointment. 

 

Q4. When did the DOBOR closure go into effect?  What is the current status of division operations?

DOBOR offices were closed on March 18, 2020. HOWEVER, as of 6/4/20, All DOBOR facilities are open to the public.  Anyone with flu-like symptoms or having recent contact with an individual who is now quarantined should refrain from entering a DOBOR facility.  All DOBOR services are still available via Internet, phone and email.   Visitors must wear a mask.  Only one visitor may enter a lobby at a time.  Social distancing is required.  PLEASE READ ALL POSTS AT DOBOR FACILITIES BEFORE ENTERING. THESE SAFEGUARDS ARE IN PLACE FOR YOUR PROTECTION AND FOR THE PROTECTION OF DOBOR STAFF.

 

Q5.  What is the current rule about the number of people who can board a single boat?

Posted 6/1/21: Hawaii County Covid-19 Emergency Rule No. 15.  See the table below for details.

Posted 5/14/21: Maui County amended restrictions and issued its Public Health Emergency Rules, Effective May 9, 2021. 

As of 12:01 am Thursday, February 25, 2021, Tier 3 restrictions apply for the City and County of Honolulu.  This change allows commercial vessels to increase to 50% of carrying capacity.   See press release announcing changeover.

Passenger limits are as follows.

TYPE OF VESSEL HONOLULU COUNTY LIMIT MAUI COUNTY LIMIT HAWAI`I   COUNTY LIMIT KAUA`I  COUNTY LIMIT
Recreational Vessels No Capacity Limits 50% of carrying capacity.  This includes passengers and crew.  Operators must adhere to Rule 5 of the Maui County Public Health Emergency Rules, Effective May 9, 2021. 100% carrying capacity
Ten (10) passengers who do not need to be related or from the same household.  If a lower number is stated on the vessel capacity plate, that is the limit.  All vessels must maintain a distance of six feet from the next vessel at all times.
Commercial Uninspected Vessels (six pax) No Capacity Limits 50% of carrying capacity.  This includes passengers and crew.  Operators must adhere to Rule 5 of the Maui County Public Health Emergency Rules, Effective May 9, 2021. 100% carrying capacity Six (6) passengers, this does not include crew.  Maximum of ten (10) on a vessel.  Operators must adhere to CDC guidelines.
Commercial Inspected Vessels No Capacity Limits 50% of carrying capacity.  This includes passengers and crew.  Operators must adhere to Rule 5 of the Maui County Public Health Emergency Rules, Effective May 9, 2021.
100% carrying capacity 50% of carrying capacity, this includes passengers and crew. Operators must adhere to CDC guidelines.

 

Q6. I am piloting a vessel and will be arriving in Hawai` i soon from a foreign port.  What procedure must I follow? What are the procedures for traveling inter-island?

For international, domestic and inter-island vessel travel, depending on your island destination, please contact the appropriate DOBOR District Manager.

Kaua`i Island District Office
Jeremiah G. Aguilera
Acting Kaua`i District Manager
Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor
2494 Niumalu Road, Lihu`e, Hawai`i 96766
Phone: (808) 241-3111 Fax (808) 241-3117
E-mail: [email protected]

Hawai`i Island District Office
Jerome Nickerson
Hawai`i District Manager
Honokohau Small Boat Harbor
74-380 Kealakehe Parkway, Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i 96740-2704
Ph: (808) 327-3690 Fax: (808) 327-3693
Email: [email protected]

Maui District Office (Including the Islands of Lana`i and Moloka`i)
Paul Sensano
Maui District Manager
Ma`alaea Small Boat Harbor
101 Ma`alaea Boat Harbor Road, Wailuku, Hawai`i 96793
Ph: (808) 243-5824 Fax: (808) 243-5829
E-mail: [email protected]

O`ahu District Office
Bruce L. Swartz
O`ahu District Manager
Ke`ehi Small Boat Harbor
4 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96819
Phone: (808) 832-3520, Fax: (808) 587-1977
E-mail: [email protected]

District managers will provide information on the specific facility within their district that will receive a visiting vessel. 

All vessels must comply with conditions set in Hawai`i Governor Ige’s 19th proclamation requiring self-quarantine lasting 10 days.  Operators and passengers may only get off the vessel for supplies and need to follow the Governor’s emergency proclamations and County requirements while off the vessel, including wearing of face masks, social distancing, etc.

https://governor.hawaii.gov/emergency-proclamations/

A recreational vessel coming in from out of State does not need to be quarantine as long as the operator and passengers can prove they have been at sea for longer than 10 days and no one on board is sick. 

Upon arrival, the operator must call US Customs and Border Protection immediately at 808-522-8012.  This contact also ties-in the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture. 

All visiting vessels must fill out and submit to the respective District Manager, a 1) DOBOR Declaration Form when they arrive, 2) an application for a temporary mooring permit.

https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/210212-dobor-declaration-form (updated)

https://dobor.ehawaii.gov/forms/mooring-temporary.pdf

DOBOR is not requiring a visiting vessel to be inspected (for the safety of the staff).  A buoy run that is normally required as a condition of a temporary mooring permit can be done when DOBOR staffers see the visiting vessel come into the harbor.  If not, buoy runs can be done on a case-by-case basis. 

Proof of insurance is not required immediately if the operator of the vessel must contact an insurance provider to establish a new policy. However, proof of $500,000 liability insurance should be submitted as soon as possible to keep the temporary mooring permit in force.

Visiting vessels should be aware that DLNR/DOBOR rules prohibit a vessel from anchoring offshore for more than 72-hours in what is called an Ocean Recreation Management Area or a Non-Designated Ocean Recreation Management Area.

 

Q7. Are public restrooms at the harbors open?

On Hawai`i island, Kaua`i and O`ahu, restrooms are open all hours, seven days a week with one exception.  Wai`anae SBH public restrooms are closed from 4pm to 7am daily. DOBOR’s restrooms on Maui were shut down on 4/9/20 because of an issue with the cleaning contractor.  The facilities are now being cleaned by DOBOR staff and have been reopened.  

 

Q8. Can I use my boat to visit offshore islets (the Mokulua islets and others) in the Main Hawaiian Islands? 

DLNR issued new guidelines for State parks, beaches, trails and boating on September 23, 2020. View the press release.

The prohibition on landing on Ahu O Laka (aka the Sandbar, Kane`ohe Bay, O`ahu) has been lifted as of 9/24/20.

MOST RECENT RESTRICTIONS

DLNR announced by press release on 4/13/20 that these areas are being closed due to Covid-19.  However, that situation has changed.  See question Q&A posted 6/13/20 for info on visiting O`ahu’s offshore islands.

The prohibition on landing on Ahu O Laka (aka the Sandbar, Kane`ohe Bay, O`ahu) has been lifted.  Vessels visiting Ahu O Laka MUST moor at least 20 feet apart.  All visitors MUST practice social distancing AND adhere to safety guidelines according to published requirements. PLEASE NOTE: Abuse of the social distancing guidelines could result in Ahu O Laka being shut down again.

As a reminder, alcohol, narcotics and non-prescription drugs are prohibited at Ahu O Laka on 4th of July weekend under HAR 13-256.73.13.

 

COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS

Q9.  What is the current status of Commercial Use Permits across the State?

For commercial watersports businesses (surf schools, kayak companies, etc.):

 

City and County of Honolulu
Businesses may operate according to the City and County of Honolulu Reopening Strategy guidelines for Parks, Beaches, Trails, & camping.  The limit shall include guests and crew.  The Reopening Strategy can be found at: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e69ad07bb2a7750ffc9a8ed/t/5f6d40a885acd1062dd269f0/1600995499000/Printable+Reopening+Strategy+%283%29.pdf

 

Kaua`i County
Businesses may operate according to the County of Kaua`i Emergency Rule #10.  According to Rule #10, each business shall determine the maximum number of individuals that may be accommodated while maintaining the specified separation distance.  The Public Health Emergency Rules can be found at: https://www.kauai.gov/Portals/0/Civil_Defense/EmergencyProclamations/Mayor%27s%20Emergency%20Rule%20%2310.pdf

 

Maui County
Businesses may operate according to the County of Maui Public Health Emergency Rules, Effective May 9, 2021.

 

Hawai`i County
Businesses may operate according to the County of Hawai`i 2020-09-26 Mayor’s COVID-19 Emergency Rule 12.  According to subsection C, Gatherings, the limit is groups of ten (10) persons and shall include guests and crew.  The County of Hawai`i 2020-09-26 Mayor’s COVID-19 Emergency Rule 12 can be found at: https://coronavirus-response-county-of-hawaii-hawaiicountygis.hub.arcgis.com/datasets/a796ff90aa8144ffbca61f1028d7cd57

 

 

Q10. Is the state working on a stimulus package for commercial operators to sustain and re-establish their businesses? Many of these companies have been paying DLNR-DOBOR 3% of their gross revenues monthly, some for decades. These fees have added to millions in revenue for the state. Will the state be helping them back?

This matter is not within DLNR’s jurisdiction to decide.

 

Q11. Going forward, will permittees get any official notice directly from DLNR-DOBOR regarding their permits? Many commercial permittees were confused when they learned of the suspension of their permits through social media and the local news. With so much miss-information circling around on social media platforms, Permittees need to know that the information they are receiving is coming from a reliable source to maintain confidence in the information they are receiving.

Each harbor facility was posted with notices that included contact information in the event there were any questions or issues with the facility. Updates are being put on the website whenever possible and can be reviewed at: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/. Additionally, it is recommended that people monitor the following official government communications:

 

Q12. What are the mask requirements for commercial vessels operating in Hawaii?

Commercial vessels, regardless of size are required to ensure that all their passengers and crew wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This follows the recent Presidential Executive Order and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirement for immediate action requiring mask-wearing on all domestic modes of transportation on land and sea.  The only exemptions to this are private conveyances not used for commercial use and certain military operations.  See USCG MSIB 02-21.

 

This page was last updated 9/10/21.