Coronavirus: Florida county commissioners OK reopening beaches in Sarasota

Commissioners in a west-central Florida county on Wednesday unanimously approved the reopening of beaches for “limited use.”

The Sarasota Board of County Commissioners approved a motion Bradenton Herald reported.

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The move comes after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last week approved the opening of beaches and parks if they could be done safely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Beaches in northeast Florida, including Duval and St. Johns counties, opened last weekend.

Beaches in Sarasota County and northern neighbor Manatee County have been closed since March 21. While Sarasota’s beaches will have its limited opening, beaches in Manatee County will remain closed.

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Sarasota County commissioners said whlle the beaches would be open, congregating will be prohibited and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines, the Herald reported. There also will be no access to parking lots, concessions or playgrounds. Beachgoers will not be allowed to have supplies such as coolers, umbrellas, chairs and towels, the newspaper reported.

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Commissioners stressed the beaches will only be open for “essential activities,” WWSB reported.

“Let’s not jump and go crazy when we open these up, I don’t expect to see a drum circle on Sunday,” Commissioner Christian Ziegler said during Wednesday’s meeting.

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Commissioner Nancy Detert made the motion to reopen the beaches with restrictions, the Herald reported.

“I think with this motion it’s really codifying what’s going on. We all know that we can go down to the beach right this very minute and see people walking on the beach, probably swimming, but in a socially responsible manner," Detert said. “We’re just allowing that privilege for everyone else."

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