Beach parking will reopen in Sarasota County; Chairs, coolers and canopies also allowed starting Monday

It was sooner than expected, but residents in Sarasota County will have their parking back if they want to head to the beach. In addition, commissioners decided to allow people to use the beach for all uses -- not just for exercise -- as long as beachgoers follow social distancing guidelines.

The changes go into effect Monday, May 4 and apply to every beach in Sarasota County, except Lido Beach, which is within the city of Sarasota. 

Other changes that will begin Monday are:
-    Public restrooms will be open
-    Chairs, coolers and canopies will also now be allowed, but the county is asking all beachgoers to maintain social distancing and keep groups to 10 or less
-    Concessions, playgrounds, amenities and picnic shelters will remain closed and are planned for opening as part of Phase 3 of beach reopening

County-operated pickleball and tennis courts will open Saturday. For a list of open courts, head to the county's website.

Sarasota County reopened beaches this past Monday for exercise only. They reported no apparent issues and planned to phase in public parking for two weeks. 

However, with the governor's reopening plan starting on May 4, they chose to eliminate those restrictions sooner.