Vehicle access ramps to Volusia County beaches closed until further notice, officials say

Countywide curfew unlikely, sheriff says

Even with big Volusia beach crowds, social distancing in place

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Vehicle access ramps to Volusia County’s beaches will remain closed until further notice in an effort to limit crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to county officials.

County Manager George Recktenwald made the announcement Tuesday afternoon in a news conference after testing the crowd control measure over the weekend.

“Last weekend, we closed the vehicle access ramps throughout Volusia County on the beaches,” Recktenwald said. “This served as a system of crowd control and it worked.”

Initially, the access ramps were only set to be closed through March 26 but county officials warned last week that could change to protect the health and safety of the community.

Recktenwald said a midday high tide is expected this week, meaning beachgoers will have less space to enjoy the beaches.

“As you know, when the tide moves in, the width of the beach decreases. This, of course, pushes people together,” Recktenwald.

He said the county’s beach safety team will continue to monitor the beaches with the new measure in place and make adjustments as necessary.

Recktenwald said beachgoers must follow social distancing guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention -- which advise people to leave 6 feet between themselves and others -- or exceed them.

The county is prepared to reduce parking or close beachside lots as needed, he said.

According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, 18 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in Volusia County. A total of 1,412 Florida-related cases have been reported, 18 of which have resulted in death, according to the health department.

Volusia County health officials said Tuesday that 14 of the county’s confirmed cases are either travel-related or had close contact with another known case. The other four are still being investigated, according to officials.

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The county has also limited hours at its service building and closed others, including its library buildings, however, county officials said libraries are offering curbside pickup and residents can register for library cards online.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said a countywide curfew, like the ones in place in Orange and Osceola counties, is unlikely. Chitwood said there are not currently any plans to announce a shelter-in-place order.

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