SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - After images and videos of crowded beaches in Florida filled with spring break revelers increased calls for counties and the state to take action, both Sarasota and Manatee counties are closing their beaches until further notice.
Mall at UTC, Sarasota Square Mall, Westfield Siesta Key and Ellenton Outlets shut down due to coronavirus. More information here.
Sarasota County announced Thursday at 3pm that it would be closing all of its beaches and facilities at 6am on Saturday. Friday, the City of Venice added that the South Jetty (Humphris Park), Venice Fishing Pier and Children’s Interactive Fountain would also close.
Though government officials said visitors and residents had been following their instruction to remain in groups of 10 or less at least six feet apart, with so many other Florida communities closing beaches, they said they worried it would cause an influx to the beaches on the Suncoast.
Manatee County made an announcement at the same time, saying that beaches on Anna Maria Island will close starting at 6am on Friday.
“This is not a step we take lightly to close our beaches, but together with the advice of the public health officials we believe it is a step that’s in the public’s best interest,” County Administrator Cheri Coryea said. “Our primary concern is the health and safety of our residents and visitors and the people they return home to. The leadership of the Island cities of Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, the City of Anna Maria and the Town of Longboat Key collectively brainstormed this decision and will have the authority to manage the impacts in their community.”
The City of Anna Maria warned visitors on their website that the Publix on the island has had daily shortages of food and other necessities. Manatee County officials will hold a press conference at 2pm on Friday to discuss their local response to coronavirus.
Both Sarasota and Manatee counties said they would be placing signs, hanging up no swim signs, shutting down parking lots and increasing enforcement to keep people off the beaches.