BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - After announcing last week that all of the public beaches were closing, Manatee County officials announced Tuesday morning during an emergency meeting that public boat ramps would also be closing.
Beaches in Manatee County closed to the public at 6am last Friday, March 20. Public boat ramps will close beginning at 6am Thursday. Beer Can Island will also close to the public.
Like beaches, Public Safety Director Jacob Saur says they’re closing the boat ramps to keep groups larger than 10 from congregating and to prevent the shared use of spaces, such as gas pumps. Saur said that there are pictures of people having boat parties and those people have ruined it for everyone.
“These are the next steps needed to curb public gatherings,” said Saur. “For your families, for the community and for the medical teams working around the clock to stop this virus, now is the time to stay at home."
There is an exception for commercial fisherman who have a U.S. Coast Guard Six-Pack Captain’s License and a commercial fishing license.
“Commercial fisherman can use the south boat ramp on Coquina Beach and beach patrol will monitor commercial fisherman using that boat ramp,” said Saur.
The closure applies to all county-owned boat ramps along with Holmes Beach boat ramp at Memorial Park and Palmetto’s Riverside Park boat Ramp. Though Emerson Point Preserve will remain open, no vehicles or water vessels will be able to reach the sandy beach launch at the western end of the park. Rose Park will also close.
Officials met Tuesday, extending the county’s local state of emergency with all but one commissioner joining the meeting over the phone. Commissioners also briefly discussed the possibility of a local stay-at-home order and what an “essential” business is, but were more focused on making sure they can help provide the equipment medical professionals need to treat coronavirus.
Part of the issue with supplying enough medical equipment is what’s called the “burn rate,” or the pace at which supplies are used. For coronavirus, which is highly infectious, the burn rate is much higher and supplies can quickly dwindle.