California’s Orange County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to keep the county’s beaches open despite coronavirus-related deaths skyrocketing. Now, there is a concern among Californian residents that the beaches will be impacted this weekend due to a surge of visitors looking to escape an expected heatwave. Today also saw announcements that Florida’s Bay County and Sarasota County beaches will be opening today and Monday respectively. Last week, Jacksonville, Florida beaches reopened, as well. So, with these reopenings, what is coronavirus beach life going to be like?
California’s Orange County Beaches
With the closure of beaches in San Diego County and Los Angeles County, Orange County may be everyone’s go-to spot in the coming weeks.
The city beaches in the area will remain closed: San Clemente, Seal Beach, and Laguna Beach, while Aliso Beach, Capistrano Beach, Dana Point Harbor, Newport Harbor, Salt Creek Beach, Sunset Harbor will remain open.
“We’re urging people to get outside. If we’ve got some great weather, some sunshine and fresh air, what better place to enjoy it than the beaches if enjoyed responsibly? And I trust our citizens to in fact be responsible,” Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner said in a statement.
Despite, the concerns over the coronavirus, Californians are eager to get outside and return to normalcy.
“I am so excited,” Costa Mesa resident Bradley McIntosh told CBS Los Angeles. “Obviously, things have been a little bit off with the coronavirus…It’s probably going to be pretty tough to keep everybody in their houses…Everyone I’ve talked to is getting ready to go get in the water.”
However, it won’t be that easy. Councilman Chris Hamm said the council is hoping to open the beaches by the end of the week with limited access and no “passive use.”
Hamm emphasized that there would be many beach parking restrictions in popular areas. To that point, Councilwoman Laura Ferguson wondered if people would crowd the residential neighborhoods in the area with the restriction of beach access parking. Nonetheless, the Board of Supervisors are still in favor of opening.
Moving forward, the city is looking to reach out to State Parks concerning the state beaches they control. They are looking to set a date to open up more of the area’s beaches.
Florida’s Beaches Move
An emergency order led to Florida’s Bay County beaches reopening for recreational use. Strict social distancing is being required, along with set hours of 6 am and 9 am and 5 pm and 8 pm.
Sarasota’s public beaches will reopen Monday for essential recreational activities including fishing, running, walking, swimming and surfing. Not making the essential list are beach pavilions, playgrounds, tennis courts and basketball courts. Congregating is banned, as are coolers, tents, umbrellas and chairs. Beach parking will remain closed.
Last Friday, with the opening of Jacksonville, Florida, CNN reported, “Crowds cheered and flooded the beach when police took the barriers down. People were seen swimming, biking, surfing, running and fishing.”
Jacksonville beaches are open from 6 am to 11 am and from 5 pm to 8 pm. Congregating in groups is not permissible, not is sunbathing. Restricted items include towels, blankets, chairs, coolers and grills.
A word of caution from Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser: “This not a time to lounge. This is not a time to party. This is a time where you need to exercise, keep moving and then go home.”
Coronavirus Beaches — Sources
San Clemente votes to open beaches up, maybe by week’s end
O.C. supervisors vote to keep county’s beaches open
Orange County To Keep Certain Beaches Open, Some Fear Crowds Will Form As Temperatures Warm Up This Weekend