VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – All Volusia County beaches will close in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to county leaders.
County manager George Recktenwald announced in a news conference Thursday that all beaches are set to close to the public at midnight Thursday to comply with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ statewide stay-at-home order, which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
Recktenwald said the closures are being put in place to avoid sending mixed messages to residents and visitors during the governor’s 30-day executive order.
While many coastal counties have closed their beaches weeks ago, Volusia and Brevard had up to this point. Brevard officials announced earlier on Thursday they will close the county to tourists but beaches will remain open.
During the beach closures, a double-red flag will be flown to indicate that the beaches are closed to the public and lifeguard stands are not staffed.
He said if offenders fail to comply or if county officials see repeat violators, they could face a second-degree misdemeanor and up to $500 fines.
Most county parks, boat ramps and trails will remain open as long as people follow social distancing guidelines, Recktenwald said.
Recktenwald said except for short periods of times during hurricanes, this is the first time he can remember a beach closure of this nature in his 22 years of serving the area.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said he doesn’t feel a countywide curfew is necessary at this time. Daytona Beach issued a citywide curfew earlier this week but Chitwood said during Thursday’s news conference that it has since been repealed.
Chitwood said he doesn’t want his deputies to have to make arrests during the stay-at-home order and would rather focus on educating the public but they are prepared to take action if necessary.
County officials are asking all residents to comply with the governor’s statewide order, which can be read here.
The City of New Smyrna Beach said the following beachfront parking lots will be closed tomorrow:
- 27th Avenue Beachfront Park
- Esther Street Beachfront Park
- Flagler Avenue Beachfront Park
- Grayce K. Barck North Beach Community Park
- Marianne Clancy Park
At last check, Volusia County had 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to state health officials. More than 8,000 cases and 128 deaths have been reported statewide.