BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – No sunbathing on blankets allowed: A coalition of Brevard County beachside communities will limit beach activities to walking, jogging, biking, fishing, surfing and swimming during Florida’s 30-day “safer at home” order amid the new coronavirus pandemic.
News 6 partner Florida Today listed participating cities and towns, from north to south: Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, Indian Harbour Beach, Indialantic and Melbourne Beach.
"People can go out and do their walks on the beach. They can do their jogs. They can take their bike out there," Cocoa Beach City Manager Jim McKnight said.
McKnight said the goal is to avoid having groups out there.
"The only thing we ask is, when you finish doing it that you please leave the beach," he said.
On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a statewide “safer at home” order, directing Floridians to remain home and only leave for essential services for the next 30 days. The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
DeSantis’ order includes a list of permissible recreational activities — consistent with social distancing guidelines — that Brevard’s beachside communities included in their respective orders. McKnight said they added surfing to DeSantis’ list because it is a form of swimming.
Space Coast beach parks, beach parking lots and beach access parking areas will remain closed.
“Activities such as sunbathing, sitting in chairs, organized sports or lying on blankets and grouping of persons is not permitted. People will not be allowed to congregate on boardwalks and access areas,” Satellite Beach officials announced in a news release.
“Compliance with the CDC recommendations regarding social distancing shall apply. When your activity is complete, you will be required to leave the beach area,” the release said.
Last weekend, Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, Indian Harbour Beach, Indialantic and Melbourne Beach enforced temporary daytime beach closures, fearing a possible wave of visitors from across Central Florida, Florida Today reported.
Beaches in unincorporated Brevard, Cape Canaveral, and beachside Melbourne remained open last weekend. The Brevard County Commission did not take new action on the beaches during a Thursday meeting.
Thursday afternoon, Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald announced that his beaches will close Friday for 30 days. That leaves Brevard as the last remaining county with open beaches along Florida’s East Coast during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Thursday afternoon Facebook post, Indialantic Mayor Dave Berkman praised the Brevard County Commission’s recommendation to bar tourists from renting Space Coast lodging establishments during the COVID-19 emergency.
“Later today other beachside mayors and I are each signing a new emergency order to supplement the governor’s order. We will be closing the beaches, boardwalks and crossovers 24x7 to congregating, gathering or sunbathing — period,” Berkman wrote.
"The beaches will remain open 24x7 to residents wishing to exercise, fish, walk, run, etc. per the governor's order. This, combined with keeping out nonresidents, I feel does what we need," he wrote.
“We can still get our peace and walk on the beach without the fear of people from areas where the virus is prevalent coming to our area,” he wrote.
Indian Harbour Beach City Manager Mark Ryan said his mayor, Scott Nickle, would sign a similar order Thursday night.
In a Facebook post, Cape Canaveral officials asked beach visitors to follow the new rules.
"Beachgoers must act responsibly consistent with all public guidelines so that beaches may remain open for these limited activities. The city reserves the right to fully close the beaches if the public engages in irresponsible behavior inconsistent with public guidelines," the post said.
In addition to the recreational restrictions, Melbourne Beach’s beach and public beach accesses will close every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. within town limits until further notice. Violators could face criminal penalties, town police warned on Facebook.