Manatee, Sarasota Counties issue guidance for beach visits starting Monday

Manatee County Commission consider paid beach parking for Anna Maria Island
Manatee County Commission consider paid beach parking for Anna Maria Island
Updated: May. 1, 2020 at 6:10 AM EDT
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(WWSB) - The Manatee County Commission voted to re-opens beaches in the county with restrictions earlier this week. Now, Sarasota and Manatee Counties have issued guidance for those who plan to visit next week.

Public parking at Manatee’s three public beaches will be open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. beginning Monday. There are approximately 400 parking spots at Coquina, 200 at Cortez, and space for 250 at Manatee Beach. They are first-come, first-served. Drivers will be given a parking pass. Those who violate the two-hour limit will be subject to a parking citation and a fine.

Parking is limited to two hours each day. That time limit, say county officials, will allow visitors to do essential beach activities, such as walking, running, and swimming.

Animals, alcohol, fires, glass bottles, or vehicles are not allowed on county beaches anytime. Other beach gear is allowed and sunscreen is encouraged, especially for anyone who hasn’t been in the sun for several weeks.

Initially, Sarasota County reported that parking would not be open, but that has changed. Parking will now be available at all Sarasota County-maintained and operated beaches, including all beaches in the City of Venice, beginning at 6 a.m. Monday.

Chairs, coolers, and umbrellas will also now be allowed, but all beachgoers are asked to maintain social distancing and keep groups to 10 or less. Restrooms will be open but concessions and picnic shelters will remain closed.

In the City of Venice, Humphris Park (South Jetty), the Brohard Paw Park, and Venice Fishing Pier will remain closed. The City of Sarasota has not yet made a decision on Lido Beach or parking. A spokesperson for the city government issued the following statement.

“The City continues to monitor and evaluate the governor’s orders, the guidance of public health experts, and daily local COVID-19 test results as we begin the economic recovery phase. We have also identified over $2.2 million in funds to potentially assist local small businesses, and we are proactively determining ways to best help businesses reopen in a safe, simple, and fast manner. Options may include waiving some building permit fees, lessening some requirements, and developing other measures and guidelines to help City businesses return to work and safely operate. Our decisions on reopening the public beach and other City facilities and amenities will be guided by science and data and will be made in consultation with health professionals and our state and regional partners to ensure a smart and sustained recovery."

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