COCOA BEACH, Fla. – The public works department for Brevard County started work on Thursday by closing 70 miles of public beach parking lots amid the spread of the coronavirus.
At the Cocoa Beach Pier where the lot is private, guests paid the usual $20 for spots were suddenly in higher demand. However, later on Thursday Westgate Resorts, which operates the pier, said it would close the boardwalk.
The pier closed at 5 p.m., according to a statement.
“We understand the pier represents a major gathering point in Cocoa Beach and we want to do our part to ensure our that our community, team members and visitors remain as safe as possible," the statement said.
Dale Rust from Illinois was staying at an A1A hotel and walked to the beach at the pier.
"It's unbelievable that things are shutting down," Rust said. "I'm not afraid of what's going on. I'm cautious and taking care to be sure that I wash and the normal things."
The city of Cocoa Beach said this week that it does not want "all of Central Florida" coming to the Space Coast.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Cocoa Beach had 70% traffic go down since the order of no gathering of 10 or people on the beach.
“I think that’s a more prudent approach to do social distancing. I just spoke to the U.S. Surgeon General about it, here’s the thing they want you to social distance of course. They actually encourage people to get fresh air, they just don’t want you congregating in big groups,” Gov. DeSantis said.
Right now, the Canaveral National Seashore and Playalinda, and Jetty Park are closed but most of the county's beaches remain open.
Chris Arcos is visiting Merritt Island and said the crowds Thursday appeared smaller than previous days.
“There are not as many people as we had over the past week or so,” Arcos said. “There were a lot more people that were here, but still a lot of people coming out.”
Cocoa Beach has also temporarily banned alcohol on the beach.