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.