Some Florida Beaches Could Actually Be Reopening Soon
Life is a little strange right now, and just when you thought things couldn't get any wilder Florida's here to throw a curveball. The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) is considering a request to reopen Florida beaches. But don't grab your towels and sunscreen just yet.
During a Monday meeting, the BCC discussed opening Pinellas County beaches, and possibly pools in condo buildings for residents.
The measure is said to help locals' wellbeing and mental health by giving them opportunities for outdoor exercise like running and walking.
"There is a police presence on the beaches all the time. I do believe that the citizens in Pinellas County are being responsible. They understand the dangers and they’re taking the responsible acts to keep their distance to be safe," said Commissioner Kathleen Peters during the meeting.
The request comes just 10 days after a statewide stay-at-home order was issued for Florida. The county is currently in talks about how to proceed.
The county sheriff isn't completely on board with the decision. In an interview with Channel 8 News, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says it's too premature to reverse recently implemented beach closures.
“I think we maintain the status quo, especially because we haven’t hit the peak with anything. With cases, deaths, ICU beds. Let’s maintain this course until the end of the month,” he said.
He went on to compare the partial beach openings to how ineffective it might be to take half a bottle of penicillin.
“You take the penicillin. You finish the prescription because the last thing that anybody wants is to back off too fast and then see a resurgence of this," Sheriff Gualtieri continued.
This isn't the first time this month Florida officials considered reopening beaches.
City leaders in Marco Island voted 4 to 3 on April 3 to reopen one pedestrian access point and one exit point to the Marco Island beach, but quickly reversed the decision after residents voiced concerns.
On Monday, residents from Walton County, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee were denied an emergency request that would allow beachfront property owners to be exempted from a public health order that cut off their beach access.
The request was filed days after Gov. Ron DeSantis' 30-day stay-at-home order.
The county has yet to decide whether they'll reopen beaches; a decision is expected on Thursday.