While Florida leaders caught flak for leaving many beaches open during Spring Break, the COVID-19 pandemic eventually led nearly every coastal government in Florida to quarantine the dunes. But with cases surging and the occasional holiday weekend drawing more to the beach, some jurisdictions have announced further closures. The Labor Day holiday has prompted new closures.
Most communities have reopened their shores, but a variety of restrictions exist in localities across the state. So where can you find a slice of sand and how are officials keeping you safe?
Florida Politics is maintaining a running compilation of beach openings and closings. Holiday closures top the list.
LABOR DAY CLOSURES
Palm Beach County
The Town of Palm Beach will close its shores from Sept. 5 to Sept. 7, the Palm Beach Daily News reported.
The Village of Islamorada issued a notice only that beaches in the popular key will be closed through Labor Day.
But most coastal counties have eased restrictions …
Dixie County: Beaches open
Franklin County: Beaches open
County officials fully reopened all beaches to the public as of noon on May 15, WTXL reports. The beaches, beginning May 4, had opened for limited hours, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. The public will be able to access beaches from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. County Commissioners previously closed all beaches in the county as of March 27.
Levy County: Beaches open
There’s no complete shutdown of recreational facilities listed on the county website. The popular destination Cedar Key had restricted travel only to residents and those with prior reservations. Those restrictions were in place from March 25 to May 4.
Taylor County: Beaches open
The county opened boat ramps on May 7 and opened parks with limited parking. Officials say parking lots at Keaton Beach are now fully open but roadside parking is still restricted. County Commissioners had previously closed county parks and beaches effective March 27. The county later closed all but the Keaton Beach boat ramp, which for a period was only open for commercial fishermen, according to the county.
Wakulla County: Beaches open
Brevard County: Beaches open
County officials as of May 1 opened beaches and public parking lots for beaches, according to Visit Space Coast. Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, Indialantic and Indian Harbour Beach voted to open their beaches to sunbathing while restricting gatherings to no more than five people, according to Florida Today. Ahead of the July 4 holiday, Cocoa Beach officials put a 10-person restriction on beach gatherings. Alcohol is banned on Cocoa Beach, where officials are cracking down on littering as well. Melbourne Beach has reopened to limited use for residents only. But parking in cities remains closed and many businesses are towing beachgoers parked on private property. Cape Canaveral beaches are open for walking, jogging, biking, fishing, surfing and swimming. Apollo Beach and Playalinda Beach have restrictions on parking lost and bathroom access.
Indian River Beach County: Beaches open
The guarded beaches in the county — Vero Beach, Golden Sands, Wabasso Beach, Tracking Station Beach, Round Island Beach and Indian River Shores — fully opened as of May 5, reports TC Palm. But for Independence Day weekend, beaches will only be open to residents from 1 a.m. July 3 until July 5 at 10 p.m., Florida Today reports. The beaches previously opened with limited uses on April 28 from sunrise to sunset, Florida Today reports. Previously, officials announced beaches in the county and Vero Beach were closed starting March 23.
Volusia County: Beaches open
County officials announced that as of April 25 all beaches in the county, including the popular spring break destination of Daytona Beach, are now available to use. Beginning on May 2, all beaches fully opened, with social distancing enforced. On Memorial Day weekend, crowds led the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office to temporarily close down the beach and bridges leading to crowded areas, Spectrum News 13 reported. But that was in response to a specific event. Most recently, the beaches were reopened to vehicles, WKMG reports. The beaches had been closed to all activity including pedestrians walking, but county officials loosened restrictions to allow walking, jogging, biking, fishing, surfing and swimming. Now sitting and sunbathing are allowed. Social distancing is still encouraged.
Bay County: Beaches open
Bay County Commissioners voted to reopen beaches in unincorporated areas as of April 24 for a transitional phase, according to WJHG-TV. As of May 2, the beaches were open with no local restrictions. The Panama Beach City Council voted to fully open its beaches the same day. Meanwhile, the Mexico Beach City Council voted to reopen the beaches for limited hours and activities, according to the Northwest Daily News. That beach remains open only from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and the city now allows beach chairs and other items, but parking lots are still closed.
Escambia County: Beaches open
Pensacola Beach and other local beaches reopened as of May 1, reports the Pensacola News Journal. Public restrooms and an area under the pier will remain closed. County Commissioners previously voted to close Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key Beach, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
Gulf County: Beaches open
Okaloosa County: Beaches open
County commissioners fully opened all county beaches May 6, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. County beaches opened for recreational use starting May 1, the Pensacola News Journal previously reported, with limited hours. Commissioners said social distancing measures are still in place.
Santa Rosa County: Beaches open
County commissioners fully opened Navarre Beach and the fishing pier there without restrictions May 6, reports the Pensacola News Journal. County beaches opened for recreational use May 1 with limited hours, but law enforcement said beachgoers have practiced responsible social distancing. The beach had previously been closed since March 21.
Walton County: Most beaches open
All public beaches in the county reopened on May 1. Initially, only limited activity was allowed, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. As on May 12, county commissioners allowed all beach vendors to return to work and for more lounging on the beach. Walton County’s previous beach closure withstood a test in court. A notable exception, military leaders closed the Eglin East Pass Beach Area. The 96th Test Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Scott Cain ordered the area closed due to increased activity leading to unsafe conditions, unauthorized commercial activities on federal property, and to protect the Eglin range, a national asset, according to a news release from Eglin. That closure became effective May 8.
Duval County: Beaches open
All restrictions on beach use were formally lifted in the county May 6, according to The Florida Times-Union. Mayor Lenny Curry had previously ordered all beaches closed indefinitely starting on March 20, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record. Beaches began to reopen on April 18 with social distancing enforced. Activities were initially limited to walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing. Beaches opened for limited times starting May 4, The Florida Times-Union reports.
Flagler County: Beaches open
County officials announced on April 21 all beaches would open for “physical and mental health activities.” As of April 29, all restrictions of activities on the beach were lifted, but social distancing recommendations remain in effect.
Nassau County: Beaches open with restrictions
County officials opened beaches on May 1 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. according, to Action News Jax. Most recently, the county said residents and activity military could once again drive on the beaches. The Sheriff’s Office previously announced the closure of all beaches in the county as of March 22, according to News4Jax. City officials have now reopened Fernandina Beach with identical restrictions to those on county beaches, according to the Amelia Island Tourism Development Council.
St. Johns County: Beaches open
Broward County: Beaches open with restrictions, closing for holiday weekend
Broward County officials reopened beached on May 26 with restrictions, according to Local 10 News. The long-awaited reopening was put off until after Memorial Day weekend. But the beaches will close for Independence Day weekend, from July 3 through July 5. There is no sunbathing or lounging allowed right now and law enforcement will break up gatherings of more than 10 people. County Administrator Bertha Henry previously set May 26 as a target date to up beaches, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The Hollywood Broadwalk opened to walk from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 13, reports Local 10. Municipal leaders in seven cities, including Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, expressed a desire to open beaches as of May 26, but County Mayor Dale Holness stressed it makes sense to coordinate with Miami-Dade, The Miami Herald reports. Deerfield, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Pompano Beach all closed beaches starting March 18, according to Local 10 News. Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the rest of the beaches in the county closed as of March 20.
Miami-Dade County: Beaches open with restrictions, closing for holiday
Miami-Dade officials reopened beaches on June 10, the last Florida city to do so since the beginning of the pandemic. But County Mayor Carlos Giménez said because of a spike in cases afterward, he will close the beaches for Independence Day weekend, from July 3-7. When the beaches are open, it’s still with restrictions. Face coverings are required except for children under 2 and those engaged in strenuous beach activity; masks will not be required while individuals are in the ocean. Social distancing will be enforced and bathroom attendants will encourage sanitizing hands. County officials originally planned to reopen beaches on June 1, but massive protests over George Floyd‘s death forced Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giminez to delay that move. The beaches will not reopen until a nightly curfew lifts, which has yet to happen in the county. He said beaches will reopen when a curfew tied to the protests lifts. When beaches reopen, there will be restrictions strictly enforced, according to NBC-6 South Florida. Visitors can walk, jog, swim, surf, sunbathe, kayak and paddleboard. The requirement doesn’t apply to children under the age of 2. Groups will be limited to 10 people or less and social distancing will be required except for family members living in the same home. Pets aren’t allowed, fishing will be confined to a few areas and there will be no sharing of equipment. The city of Miami Beach previously announced it was targeting June 1 to reopen its hotels and beaches, and county officials made clear mask requirements will remain, according to the Miami Herald. The opening of South Florida’s most high-profile beach is expected to prompt other beaches in the county to open as well. Giménez on March 19 ordered all beaches closed in the community, the first South Florida jurisdiction to do so. Miami Beach falls within the city’s jurisdiction.
Martin County: Beaches open
As of May 20, beaches in the county were open to the public, TC Palm reports. The county will fully close beaches for the Independence Day weekend, beginning at 6 p.m. July 2, Florida Today reports. The beaches will reopen July 6 at 6 a.m. The county initially reopened beaches on May 4 with restrictions, but after seeing excessive crowds, access to the beaches was restricted to only county residents as of May 14, WPBF reports. Individuals have to sit at least six feet apart with social distancing enforced. Hobe Sound, which borders Palm Beach County, was initially left closed but was reopened on May 20. However parking lots there remain restricted. County Commissioners have considered limiting beach access to weekdays after seeing high Mother’s Day weekend traffic, according to the Palm. County Commissioners previously closed all public county beaches as of March 22, according to WPTV.
Monroe County: Beaches open, closing for holiday weekend
Key West city leaders on April 27 opened all parks and beaches, according to the Key West Citizen. But Monroe County Commissioners have voted to close the beaches for Independence Day weekend, from July 2 at 5 p.m. until the morning of July 7, CBS 12 reports. Through May few could reach the Keys. County Commissioners starting imposed limitations beginning March 24 limiting residents and workers access to the string of islands via U.S. 1; that restriction lifted on June 1. Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 30 issued a safer at home order closing down all nonessential business in South Florida counties until mid-April. County beaches never closed. However, Keys Weekly reports some municipalities closed beaches under their jurisdiction. Marathon and Islamorada reopened beaches on May 4.
Palm Beach County: Beaches open with restrictions, closing for a holiday weekend
Mayor Dave Kerner announced beaches will be closed from July 3 through 5 to stop a holiday weekend rush, WPTV reports. County Commissioners opened beaches on May 18, and ultimately allowed all members of the public instead of limiting to county residents, 12 News reports. The county is considering closing beaches for Independence Day weekend, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Municipalities are allowed to decide if their own beaches remain closed. Palm Beach town leaders will keep beaches closed until May 26. Boca Raton opened to pedestrian activity only and left beachfront parks closed. Delray Beach also opened up, Local 10 reports. Riviera Beach voted to reopen its beaches as of noon on May 19, The Palm Beach Post reports. Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order closing all Palm Beach beaches as of March 20, but left it to local government when to reopen them. DeSantis has lifted a statewide stay-at-home order but it initially remained in effect for three South Florida counties with the state’s highest numbers of infections. After Palm Beach County leaders suggested the community may now be on the other side of the curve, DeSantis agreed to allow Phase One reopening there as of May 11.
St. Lucie County: Beaches open
County Commissioners voted to reopen beaches beginning April 28, and lifted all temporary restrictions on uses and activities as of May 7, reports TC Palm. County beaches closed March 23 after crowds failed to adhere to social distancing, TC Palm reports.
Charlotte County: Beaches open
Charlotte County Commissioners authorized county administration to reopen the beaches on April 27, according to County Commissioner Bill Truex. County beaches were closed in Charlotte County since March 22, with deputies threatening $500 fines to those breaking the rules, according to NBC-2.
Collier County: Beaches open with restrictions
County Commissioners voted to restrict hours from July 3 through July 7. Beaches during that span will only be open from 7 to 11 a.m., then again from 5 p.m. until dusk on those days, NBC-2 reports. County Commissioners previously voted to reopen its beaches beginning April 30, according to the Naples Daily News. But after nearly two weeks fully open, commissioners limited weekend hours to 7 to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to sunset. Naples and Marco Island opened beaches in city jurisdiction as of April 30, though the Naples Pier will remain closed, according to WINK News. Naples briefly closed its beaches again because of overcrowding, the first Florida beach to close a second time after reopening amid the pandemic. But the City Council on June 9 voted to reopen the beaches with normal operating hours. As of May 11, the city beach has weekend restrictions on umbrellas, coolers and tents, WTSP reports. The beach will be open sunrise to sunset during weekdays, but only from 7 to 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to sunset on weekends. The City of Naples closed its beaches as of March 18, and Collier County followed suit, closing its beaches on March 19, according to the Naples Daily News.
Lee County: Beaches open
Lee County Commissioners voted to reopen beaches April 29 at sunrise. That includes parking lots and with regular hours. Social distancing will be enforced. Sanibel officials have signaled they will follow the county’s lead. The Town of Fort Myers Beach voted to reopen its beaches to the public May 2, WINK News reports. Parking will remain closed and only essential activities such as running and walking are permitted. Additionally, beachgoers must wear face masks. Fort Myers Beach initially reopened only to residents of the town.
Manatee County: Beaches open, some local restrictions
The County Commission voted unanimously to open beaches in the county starting May 4. As of May 13, beaches were open from sunrise to 10 p.m., a two-hour limit on parking was lifted and parking lots were fully reopened, WTSP reports. Beaches the prior nine days had opened with limited hours and parking. Cities such as Anna Maria and Holmes Beach still can restrict parking. Longboat Key officials on June 29 closed parking lots for beaches because of a surge in cases, ABC Action News reports. County leaders previously closed down all beaches, including those on barrier islands like Anna Maria Island, starting on March 20, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Vendors still cannot operate on the beaches.
Sarasota County: Beaches open, some local restrictions
Sarasota County fully opened beaches, including parking, as of May 4, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Social distancing and restrictions on groups of 10 or more are still enforced. Longboat Key officials closed parking lots for beaches on June 29 because of a surge in cases, ABC Action News reports. County Commissioners previously voted to open the beaches to essential physical activity like walking, surfing and fishing starting April 27, but parking lots at the time remained closed. Cities are still able to close beaches within their borders. Venice has the same existing limitations as the county on Venice Beach. The City of Sarasota opened Lido Beach beginning on May 19, and urged the use of face masks.
Citrus County: Beaches open
County Commissioners voted to reopen all beaches and parks beginning on May 1, reports The Citrus Chronicle. That includes Fort Island Gulf and Hernando Beaches.
Hernando County: Beaches open
County Commissioners voted on April 28 to reopen all parks and beaches, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Hillsborough County: Most beaches open
Four beaches run by the city of Tampa were reopened May 4, including Ben T. Davis Beach, Cypress Point Park, Davis Islands Seaplane Basin and Picnic Island Park. All beaches and parks in unincorporated Hillsborough County, including Apollo Beach, remain closed except for walking trails. The county beaches have been closed since March 28, according to WUSF.
Pasco County: Most Beaches open with restrictions
County officials opened most of its beaches and parks as of May 3, but only for limited activity like jogging, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Officials had closed area beaches at four county-managed parks as of March 20.
Pinellas County: Beaches open
County Commissioners voted to open beaches, with some restrictions, starting May 4 at 7 a.m. And as of May 28, social distancing and other restrictions are no longer enforced. Visitors are now allowed to bring chairs and sunbathe, but officials originally limited groups to no more than 10 people following reopening. Social distancing is encouraged, but not enforced.