Pinellas Sheriff is enforcing social distancing orders at beaches over Memorial Day weekend

Gulfport Beach reopen during coronavirus pandemic

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WMNF News: Beach dunes

Dunes on Sand Key along the Gulf of Mexico. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News, Sept. 2009

It’s Memorial Day weekend and typically, Floridians pack the beaches.

But this year, if you venture out, you’ll have to observe strict social distancing rules because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. You’ll see reminder signs and sheriff’s deputies.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says people can visit the beach, but his deputies will enforce a county social distancing order.

“The beaches reopened on May 4th after being shut down for an extended period of time. It’s gone very well. We certainly appreciate the public’s cooperation as we’ve asked them to help us to help them. And what that means is that as they go to the beaches, abide by the order.

“The order is the beaches are not open for business as usual. People have to stay in groups of less than 10. They have to stay 6 feet apart. There are capacity limits. There are density limits in order to comply.

“So we have deputies out there from the north part of the county, Fred Howard Park, all the way to the south end at Fort DeSoto. We have staffing all of the beach access points and parking lots on Gulf Boulevard and the ingress and egress routes and making sure that people spread out.

“So far it’s gone very well. This weekend we anticipate it will be a little bit of a challenge for everybody, because it is Memorial Day weekend. At least for most of the days it’s going to be nice weather. A lot of people will be out there. But they can’t just come and do what they usually do, which is just come and everybody crams in and the beaches are pretty packed. We can’t allow that to happen because the order says that they have to be limited and they have to be spaced out.

“So I envision we are going to end up having to close down some sections of the beach as we have over the last couple weekends. But we’ve got the personnel out there to do it. Our goal is to help people have a good time and redirect them to open area where we can.

“We put up a dashboard that people can go to to see what’s open and what’s closed. So if they’re sitting at home and they’re thinking about going to the beach they can to go our website at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. They can click onto the dashboard and for each beach and access point it will have green, red or yellow and it will tell you whether it’s open or not.

“Since we’ve had it up over the last couple weekends we’ve had over 200,000 hits on that page. So people are using it which is fantastic. We want to, again, help people get to the beach but get to those places where there are openings.”

Listen:

Watch this interview here (the beaches section comes after WMNF talks with the Sheriff about evictions)

 

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