BRADENTON, Fla. - Manatee County will reopen its beaches starting at 10 a.m. Monday -- and it's not just for exercise. Beachgoers will be able to lay out under the sun as long as they social distance and are in groups of less than 10. Parking in Manatee County will have a two-hour limit, and violators will be ticketed.
Public beaches were shut down on March 20. However, after the governor announced his plans to reopen Florida starting Monday, commissioners decided to reopen beaches with restrictions.
Public parking spots at Manatee County's three public beaches will be open from 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., seven days a week beginning Monday.
There will be approximately 400 parking spots at Coquina Beach, 200 at Cortez Beach and space for 250 vehicles at Manatee Beach. Drivers will be allowed an available space on a first-come, first-served basis.
Upon arrival, drivers will be given a two-hour parking pass and a reminder to remain a safe distance from others. Vehicles parked beyond the two-hour time limit will be subject to a parking citation and fine.
County officials said typical beach activities are allowed, but as always, animals, alcohol, fires, glass bottles or vehicles are not allowed on county beaches anytime. Other beach gear is allowed and sunscreen is encouraged, especially for anyone who hasn't been in the sun for several weeks.
County officials remind beachgoers that sea turtle nesting season begins May 1 and it's against the law to touch or disturb nesting sea turtles, hatchlings, or their nests.
They also announced plans to manage crowds amidst several ongoing construction projects on Anna Maria ahead of public beaches opening on Monday.
"There are multiple construction projects ongoing at public beaches, but we're doing our best to open other areas for parking while these parking spots are unavailable," said Beach Patrol Chief Joe Westerman. "We want people to come and enjoy themselves at our life-guarded beaches, but they need to remember social distancing guidelines and they should be respectful of other people who want to visit the beach."
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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