Pinellas County administrator recommends re-opening beaches

Beaches closed
They would open for exercise only. No chairs or coolers allowed.

Pinellas County administrator Barry Burton wrote a letter to the County Commission Friday recommending the rollback of some restrictions set to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

In March, commissioners passed resolutions shutting down beaches and public pools. In the memo, first reported by Mark Puente, Burton said those resolutions could be rolled back as the first step in a phased reopening of the county.

“To continue to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Pinellas County, it is recommended that restrictions are gradually lifted to ensure the progress that has been made to this point is not diminished,” he wrote.

“The next phase is not a return to normality, it is learning how to live with the pandemic while mitigating the impact on our community.”

Burton said beaches should re-open for limited hours, and only for exercise. He recommended re-opening parking facilities, with a two-day lead time to get staff in place, and opening restrooms with enhanced cleaning criteria.

Beach visitors would be expected to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

For pools, Burton recommended they be limited to half capacity and that owners “take a very active approach in ensuring proper cleaning and regular sanitation of pool areas and equipment using CDC guidelines.”

Public playgrounds would remain closed in phase one, though Burton recommends allowing for the use of playgrounds at child care facilities, so long as the equipment is sanitized between each group of children who use it.

Burton said his recommendations “represent the collective thoughts of our Executive Policy Team, Municipal and Community Partners.”

The County Commission will consider his recommendations when it meets Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Commissioners decided to keep the closures in place after considering complaints from residents. The closures are set to last through the end of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ statewide stay-at-home order, which expires at the end of the but may be extended.

Staff Reports


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