TAMPA, Fla. - Late Sunday night, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced all state parks will close until further notice starting Monday, March 23.
Officials with DEP said, up until the closure announcement, they took steps such as limiting operating hours and reducing visitor capacity. However, it wasn't enough to reduce crowds that would fall in line with the CDC guidelines, as the country tries to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
"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," according to a statement. "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."
There are 175 state parks in Florida, including nature preserves, recreation areas and historic places.
"We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work to prioritize the welfare of our communities and staff," the DEP provided in a statement. "We look forward to welcoming you again to our award winning state parks as soon as possible."
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