Sarasota County eases beach restrictions; parking lots open Monday

Beaches in Sarasota County were already open for a week for exercise only, but, starting Monday, beachgoers can hit the sand for all purposes, including sunbathing.

Sarasota County leaders voted to eliminate some restrictions, allowing public parking lots to be used. Beachgoers can also bring chairs, umbrellas and coolers. 

The only restriction: remain socially distant and keep groups to 10 people or less. 

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

RELATED: 'Grim Reaper' visits Florida beaches to protest reopening during pandemic

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 reopened over the weekend. For a list of open courts, head to the county's website.

Sarasota County reopened beaches last week 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 Monday, they chose to eliminate those restrictions sooner.

Meanwhile, beaches in Pinellas, Citrus, Hernando, and Manatee counties will be reopening Monday too. 

MORE: Which Florida beaches are open? Counties begin reopening beaches with restrictions

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