Tampa orders all of its beaches closed amid coronavirus social distancing recommendations
Photo courtesy Ben T. Davis Beach Facebook page.

Ben T. Davis Beach
The order only affects four beaches.

The city of Tampa is closing its beaches in response to social distancing standards being promoted statewide to minimize the spread of the new coronavirus, the city announced Wednesday.

Mayor Jane Castor issued an order closing the city’s beaches until further notice beginning at sunset Wednesday.

Those closures affect Ben T. Davis Beach on the Tampa side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Cypress Point Beach on W. Cypress Street, Davis Islands Beach and Picnic Island Beach.

The closures come the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis declined to issue an order closing all of the state’s beaches.

Calls have been rolling in from concerned citizens who observed large crowds gathering at various Florida beaches. This is one of the busiest times of the year for beachgoers as families and young people celebrate spring break.

Most Florida K-12 schools are currently on spring break, and that will be extended to at least April 15 after the Florida Department of Education ordered all classes online earlier this week.

Instead, DeSantis signed an order limiting parties or other gatherings on Florida beaches to 10 people per group.

But photos on social media from various sources show packed beaches despite the order.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said he had been receiving requests from several residents to close St. Pete Beach where spring breakers were gathering en masse. Kriseman responded on Facebook.

“Appreciate people tagging me about the crowds on the Gulf Beaches, but I’m the mayor of St. Petersburg. We’re an urban city with a lot of water but we’re not a beach town and I have no authority over beaches. I do urge beachgoers to follow guidance and create space or simply stay home,” Kriseman wrote.

As of Wednesday evening, no other Tampa Bay beaches had been ordered closed other than those in Tampa.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].

One comment

  • John Kurzman

    March 19, 2020 at 10:21 am

    People will be in less safe situations if beaches are closed. Beaches are ideal because they are wide open spaces and the ‘surfaces’ don’t hold the virus for 9 days like when you walk down the sidewalk and touch the walk button, have to get close to people on the same sidewalk, go inside where air doesn’t circulate as well as at the beach etc. And pictures of ‘crowded’ beaches are often incorrect, as the flat picture shows people 200 feet and 100 feet from the photographer, or even further, all looking to be the same distance, on the flat photograph, which does NOT show depth distances, only left to right distances.

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