BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County’s coronavirus policy group gave the go-ahead Friday after a county commissioners vote the day prior to reopen county beach parking and move forward with reopening other county buildings as soon as they can meet the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey made the announcement while standing alongside county leaders.
"I want to be very specific and saying we're talking about the county parking. The cities, some of them are not going to open their parking yet," Ivey said.
During a special meeting of Brevard County commissioners Thursday, leaders voted to start removing the barriers that have blocked county-operated beach parking lots for several weeks. On Friday, the county’s coronavirus emergency policy group gave the vote the final approval.
Ann, of Brevard County, said she was there the moment county employees were told to take the barriers down at Lori Wilson Park.
“It happened while we were talking to him. He said, ‘Oh, got a phone call. Open the gates,’” Ann said.
In less than two hours, the parking lot at Lori Wilson park was full.
“Now everybody can come. It’s probably going to be busier, I’m sure,” Ann said.
The move means barricades blocking beach parking throughout Brevard County will be removed, beginning Friday. Several area beaches near Patrick Air Force Base are undergoing refurbishment and will remain closed.
The parking only applies to county-managed beaches. Several other Brevard County coastal cities have put their own restrictions in place.
The city of Cocoa Beach will open about 30% of beach access parking on Monday at noon, while the remainder of parking will open over the next few weeks. Alcohol is still banned in on the beach.
Satellite Beach city officials voted to extend the city’s beach parking closures until May 15.
Officials with Indian Harbour Beach said city council is meeting on Tuesday to provide direction to their residents.
Melbourne Beach officials said parking will remain closed until May 15 or until the town’s executive order is rescinded or extended. Officials said Ryckman Park is open and Ocean Park will reopen when the parking restrictions are lifted.
Ivey said he is hoping the move to reopen beachside parking access will help the county move forward with reopening. Earlier this week, the governor gave the green light for most of the state to begin phase one of the reopening process on Monday.
"We want to get to phase two as soon as possible, but we also want to keep in mind that everything we do is protecting lives and also right now trying to rebuild our economy and get things moving back again," Ivey said.
Brevard County officials said they’re hoping to reopen other county government facilities by May 18. Officials said county libraries will begin reopening in phases and will operate at a capacity of 25%, along with other county buildings, and must follow the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing and sanitization.
As of Friday morning, 289 people in Brevard County have tested positive for the coronavirus, including 48 with severe cases requiring hospitalization and eight deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard.