The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners voted to reopen area beaches on Monday, May 4th. They cited the downward trend of the curve of coronavirus cases. They say the number of hospitalizations in the county is low, with one administrator saying “we are nowhere near our hospital capacity.” It was also noted that beach activity since public closures haven’t been a problem on private beaches.
The main issue continues to be social distancing. Law enforcement will continue to break up groups of more than 10 and will encourage six feet of social distancing. One official pointed out that the county has 35 miles of beach so there is plenty of room to spread out. Beaches will be open around the clock. Parking lots will also be opening.
Signs will be printed “in mass” to make beach visitors aware of the social distancing policy so that they are reminded constantly to stay apart. For law enforcement, they plan to have someone at every beach every half mile. They say a strong presence initially is important to set the tone right away. Another hope is by opening public areas like our beaches will make the trails that have remained open less crowded.
As for pools, the county will remove the restriction that has kept them closed. They can open Thursday. However, social distancing practices will need to be in place just like beaches. Hotels and home owners associations can keep pools closed if they wish. Pools can operate with half their usual capacity. Parks and park benches remain open.