Public Beach Parking Time Limits Lifted, Bayfront Park to Reopen Tomorrow

Coconut Telegraph

SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY MAY 13, 2020

Social distancing requirements will remain but parking limits will be lifted at Manatee County's public beach parking beginning tomorrow, May 13.

County Commissioners today approved another weekly update on the County's reopening plan by County Administrator Cheri Coryea that calls for enhanced presence along popular beach areas for crowd control from Manatee Sheriff's Office on weekends until July 12. Sheriff's Office reinforcement will also to help the County's municipal partners on with parking, crowds and traffic enforcement. Residents should not park in the right of ways along Bradenton and Coquina Beaches. Some parking areas near the County's utility construction projects along Bradenton Beach will remain closed for safety.

As part of today's action, Commissioners approved extending for seven days the local state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning tomorrow, beaches will be open from sunrise until 10 p.m. and parking at public beaches will no longer be restricted to two hours. The County's popular Bayfront Park inside the City of Anna Maria, will also reopen tomorrow. Greer Island, a popular stop for local boaters near Longboat Key, will remain temporarily closed.

Coryea noted that all of the County's reopening actions align with federal social distancing guidelines and with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's Safe. Smart. Step-By-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery and within an Executive Order which extends Florida's state of emergency by 60 days into July.

"With the state of emergency being extended for 60 days, movie theaters, theme parks, bars, restaurants won’t be open and people still do not have a lot of places to go," Coryea said. "They'll be heading out to the beach, and so we're calling to expand weekend law enforcement presence through July 12."

Today's action came after County Commissioners received an update from Public Safety Director Jake Saur and Administrator Coryea on the state of the coronavirus statistics in Manatee County. Coryea said Manatee County is on a downward trend for the seventh day in a row for positive COVIDー19 cases.

"And for more proof that we're heading in the right direction, (Manatee County) is down to 9.3 percent positive rate which is the seventh day in a row of decline," she said.

Saur and Coryea said the positive trends are the result of a much higher rate of local testing for COVID-19. Manatee County residents have locations to be tested throughout the area any day of the week with or without symptoms or prescriptions. MCR Services offers multiple testing sites. A new regional testing site near the University Town Center Mall is open seven days a week. Department of Health drive-through testing continues at the Bradenton Area Convention Center on days throughout this month.

Most County Government buildings will remain temporarily closed to the public, but one quarter of its workforce will begin returning to the office this week and next as facilities are cleared for people to return.

The County's restaurant concessionaires at Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe and the Coquina Beach Cafe will remain temporarily closed but could reopen next week.

Other popular County amenities, such as libraries and public pools will likely open in June, giving County staff time to complete its reopening plan to maximize health and safety for employees and the public.

"Before reopening many of those other facilities, we will ensure they are set up properly, and that we have the protocols in place to enforce social distancing and avoid crowds," Coryea said. "We have to make sure the message is clear with proper signage on what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. We have to make sure staff is trained. Smaller venues like tennis and skate parks are all being evaluated."

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