WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Memorial Day weekend is one of the biggest boating holidays of the year and despite the coronavirus pandemic, people are expected to head for the water.
“There’s going to be people who boat a few times and year, and they’re all going to be out here trying to enjoy the sun and get out of the house after the COVID-19 quarantine we’ve had for what, three months,” said Scott Ellis, and avid boating enthusiast from Mulberry.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officers will be making their annual holiday rounds on the water.
“It’s nice to see people being out and getting some fresh air,” commented Officer Bryce Phillippi, an FWC spokesperson. We just want to make sure they’re doing it safely.”
Along with keeping an eye out for speeders, and people who drink too much, this year, FWC officers will take on extra responsibility.
They recommend that boaters follow CDC guidelines and suggest wearing a mask, and social distancing.
Tony Floyd, who frequently goes out on the Chain of Lakes in Winter Haven, says he is less concerned about COVID-19 on the water than on land because you’re in an open space rather than a cramped building.
He is not really concerned about social distancing from the other people on board either.
“Mostly it’s family and we have been in quarantine all together, so whether we’re in the house or on the boat, it’s the same thing,” he said.
One thing he is very strict about is social distancing with people he meets on the water. He likes anchoring close to another boat so he can socialize, but doesn’t go for people hopping off one craft and on to another.