All 18 miles of Flagler’s beaches to re-open Wednesday on limited, trial basis pending public compliance
Updated 2:12 p.m. April 21
After the Flagler County Commission authorized the county administration to explore reopening the beaches, the county sent out the following press release with the details:
by: Julie Murphy
Public Information Officer, Flagler County
Flagler County issued Emergency Order 2020-06 today that will allow for reopening its beaches on a limited basis to allow residents physical and mental health activities. As with the re-opening some parks with trails, the duration of the temporary reopening will be based on public compliance.
“Our residents have been very compliant with the trails at our parks, and that makes us very confident that this limited beach opening will be successful,” said County Administrator Jerry Cameron. “The degree to which we can expand the hours is dependent on how the public responds to this initial re-opening.”
The limited beach reopening is based on adherence to social distancing measures and access for physical and mental health activities only – exercising not socializing – walking, biking, surfing, fishing, not congregating like during normal times. Additionally, those fishing will be allowed to carry a small cooler or container for bait and tackle use.
“It was inevitable that we open up the Flagler beaches to our community but only with a public health focus and reflective of a joint decision by City, County, Health Department and Law Enforcement leaders,” said Florida Department of Health-Flagler Administrator Bob Snyder. “In my opinion, it is ok to change strategies and response to this unprecedented public health crisis, as long as health and safety of our residents are priority.”
City of Flagler Beach will reopen its six-mile segment of the beach 7 to 10 a.m. Access to the Beach will be allowed from 3rd Street North to the northern City Limits, and, from 9th Street South to the southern City Limits. The dune walkovers on the Boardwalk will remain closed. Fishing on the beach and dog walking will only be permitted north of 10th Street North and south of 10th Street South.
The unincorporated areas of the beach – inclusive of Beverly Beach and Marineland – will be open from 7 to 10 a.m., and in the evening from 6 to 8 p.m. However, the County’s beachfront parks and their parking lots will remain closed for the time being.
“As with the reopening of some of our parks with trails, we will gauge the public’s compliance with the CDC guidance for social distancing,” said Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord. “As our community, state, and country go through the strategic reopening process, the number of cases of COVID-19 will continue to increase.”
Every interaction with others increases the chances of acquiring or passing the virus that causes COVID-19.
“As we expand our daily routines, we must continue to protect ourselves and others through the ongoing use of cloth face coverings and social distancing,” Lord said.
All residents and businesses must abide by Executive and Emergency Orders, and follow Florida Department of Health and CDC guidance, to include:
· Staying home except when engaged in essential services or activities
· Wearing cloth face coverings when out in public
· Practicing aggressive social distancing at all times – people should keep a minimum of 6 feet of space between one another, and keep groups to less than 10, which includes while shopping and waiting in the check-out line
· Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
· Avoiding close contact with people who are, or may be, sick
Additionally, those who are sick and/or told to self-isolate are to: remain at home unless seeking medical care, cover coughs and sneezes, wear a facemask around others, and disinfect touched surfaces daily.
COVID-19 health related questions or concerns should be directed to your regular healthcare provider or the Florida Health hotline at 866-779-6121.
COVID-19 business concerns should be directed to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation at 866-532-1440.
All other COVID-19 government services questions or concerns may be directed to a specific municipality or the Emergency Operations Center at 386-313-4200.
Previous story, by Palm Coast Observer News Editor Jonathan Simmons, published at 11 a.m. April 21:
Flagler County is preparing for a limited opening of local beaches: County Commissioners during an April 20 commission meeting granted County Administrator Jerry Cameron the authority to open the beaches and other county facilities.
"We believe that we have a plan that will have a safe, limited activity on the beach, and we need to have our emergency order modified to allow us to do those adjustments as those opportunities present themselves," Cameron told commissioners.
The commission voted 5-0 to give him that discretion.
The county has not yet announced a reopening or the details of exactly how it would occur, but County Attorney Al Hadeed mentioned a potential daily time frame of 7-10 a.m. and again 6-10 p.m., on the beaches north of Flagler Beach.
Parking lots and facilities would stay closed, sedentary and group activities would be banned, and the reopening's continuation would be contingent on people complying with social distancing recommendations.
"If we get that compliance, I expect the hours to be broadly expanded," Cameron said.