Volusia leaders don’t currently plan to close beaches for Fourth of July weekend

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – As some beaches across the state plan to close down for the busy Fourth of July weekend, leaders in Volusia County say they don’t currently have plans to follow suit.

County information director Kevin Captain noted that a special council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

“At this time, there are no plans to close Volusia County beaches,” Captina said in an email to News 6. “In anticipation of the busy weekend, beachgoers are encouraged to access the beach in a less-populated area, practice physical distancing and always swim in front of lifeguard.”

People were socially distancing on the beach Monday afternoon which is why Francisco Duran said he'd rather enjoy the beach on a weekday than come out this weekend. Duran believes it would be less of a risk to catch Covid-19.

"Trying to avoid crowds, it's pretty full pack of people here. That's pretty much my concern," said Francisco Duran.

Duran said he has family and friends in Miami, where officials closed the beaches over the Fourth of July weekend and said they plan to drive north to celebrate the holiday.

"They're pretty much going to hit Florida. Pretty much Orlando and Daytona too," he said.

Reanne Degraff lives in Orlando and visits Daytona Beach often but said she will not be in the water this weekend.

"This has been the busiest since it's opened," said Degraff. "Today, like it's a Monday, so there's not many people. But the Fourth of July, I probably wouldn't just because I know it's going to be swamped," she said.

The Volusia County Beach Safety Patrol said it expects large crowds to come this holiday weekend.

"We do expect people to flock to the beach this weekend. It's Fourth of July weekend and it's a tradition," said Capt. Tammy Malphurs.

Capt. Malphurs said they have signs throughout the beaches reminding folks to social distance and conservation poles remain in place to make sure cars are spaced apart. They also urge people to visit less populated areas and said it'll be all hands on deck to make sure beachgoers are following the rules.

“With Fourth of July comes everything. We have medical calls, we have water rescues. We have a lot of stuff that we have to deal with, so we really need people to be responsible and please practice social distancing,” said Capt. Malphurs.

Already, officials in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties have announced that beaches will close for the upcoming holiday weekend. Beaches in the Miami area will remain closed until July 17.

COVID-19 cases have been on the incline in recent weeks with health officials noting that the patient age is getting younger as college-aged Floridians head out with their friends.

Beaches in Volusia County were closed for all non-exercise related activity up until the beginning of May, when Florida entered phase one of reopening. All the access ramps were opened up in time for Memorial Day weekend a few weeks later, which according to the sheriff, drew large crowds.

The statewide cumulative total of coronavirus cases sits at 146,341, with 2,024 of those located in Volusia County.

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