Sarasota County beaches open with restrictions

Sarasota County Beaches Set to Reopen with Restrictions

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - For the first time in more than 5 weeks, the Sarasota County beaches are open Monday, but there are restrictions every beachgoer needs to know.

The beaches will only be open for “essential activities” and there will be no laying on the beach, sunbathing, or hanging out with a cooler and a tent. As of 8:30 am, people on the beach were following all guidelines.

“Let’s not jump and go crazy when we open these up, I don’t expect to see a drum circle on Sunday,” Commissioner Christian Ziegler said.

The parking lots will not be open, at least not until the next commission meeting on May 5. They will see “how it goes” during this first phase of the beaches opening before opening the public parking lots. Concerns were brought up last Tuesday at the commission meeting about the people who will come from inland and park on private property, but the parking restrictions stuck.

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The decision came after debating about parking, activity control, and considering what neighboring counties are doing. Charlotte County beaches are also open with restrictions.

Sarasota County beaches were closed March 21. Manatee County also closed beaches that day.

Siesta Beach reopens with restrictions on Monday, April 27, 2020, after being shut down more than 5 weeks.
Siesta Beach reopens with restrictions on Monday, April 27, 2020, after being shut down more than 5 weeks. (Source: WWSB)

The City of Venice sent a few updates and clarifications shortly after the announcement. While the beaches there will follow the same social distancing, essential-activity-only guidelines, the South Jetty, Venice Fishing Pier, Brohard Paw Park, playgrounds and tennis court will stay closed.

The City of Sarasota will not open Lido Beach at this time. It remains closed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“Local city decisions will be guided by science, data, and credible public health advice. Lessening restrictions too early, especially with limited local testing, could backfire,” City Manager Tom Barwin said.

He added, “Following consultation with Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and local public health professionals and given the high concentration of positive results and older demographics on our barrier islands, we will continue to evaluate the situation on a daily basis before lessening restrictions at Lido Beach to ensure public health and safety."

Manatee County beaches remain closed.

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