DEP closes all Florida state parks amid coronavirus concerns

state parks
The state previously closed eight parks. Now all 175 are shut down.

All 175 state parks in Florida have been closed as officials contend with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Environmental Protection on Sunday night announced all Florida state parks were closed effective on Monday.

The move came at the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who gave the direction consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines discouraging gatherings of 10 or more.

“DEP has taken many measures to continue providing resource recreation at our state parks during this time, such as limiting operating hours and reducing visitor capacity at parks with high visitation,” reads a statement on the Florida State Parks website.

“Unfortunately, this has not resulted in the reductions needed to best protect public health and safety as Florida continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work to prioritize the welfare of our communities and staff. We look forward to welcoming you again to our award winning state parks as soon as possible.”

Notably, DeSantis has resisted calls to close all beaches in the state of Florida, leaving decisions to local governments.

On a call with state lawmakers, Division of Emergency Management Jared Moskowitz said even in states that have closed beaches, it’s been challenging to enforce restrictions.

But most state parks are gated and guarded.

The state had previously closed a small number of parks in hopes of restricting capacity.

The state closed Jonathan Dickson State Park, Manatee Springs State Park, Rainbow Springs State Park and Ruby. B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park on Thursday.

Before that, Fanning Springs State Park, Florida Caverns State Park, George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park and Ichetucknee Springs State Park had already been closed.

But the sweeping move Sunday evening closed down the remaining 167 state parks, ensuring guests don’t just shift from one popular park to another.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Thomas Knapp

    March 23, 2020 at 9:22 am

    “But the sweeping move Sunday evening closed down the remaining 167 state parks, ensuring homeless or displaced people have fewer camping options for self-isolation.”

    Fixed, no charge.

    • DeMarcus Stanfield

      March 23, 2020 at 11:42 am

      Thomas, I’m not sure you understand what state parks are. They are gated and have boundaries, and many are in rural areas. In addition they are patrolled by rangers. They are generally wilderness areas rather than your local neighborhood park. Homeless people tend to camp in city and county parks, not state parks.

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