VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Hours into the Fourth of July holiday, New Smyrna Beach reached capacity.
New Smyrna Beach tweeted the beach between Flagler Avenue and Crawford Avenue reached its capacity before 9 a.m. Saturday.
Officials asked beach-goers to “seek other beaches” and not to park where prohibited.
Barbara Monhollon and her family joined beach goers who wanted to celebrate the holiday on the sand.
“They’re not having fireworks tonight and we decided well, we’ll spend the day at the beach,” Monhollon said.
Volusia County has signs throughout the beaches reminding folks to social distance and conservation poles remain in place to make sure cars are spaced apart. Officials urge people to visit less populated areas and said it’ll be all hands on deck to make sure beachgoers are following the rules.
Monhollon said despite the large gathering, she felt safe spending Independence Day at the beach.
“I stay my distance, I wash my hands all the time and I’m just with my family and we even stay our distance,” she said.
But other beach goers like Steve Atkins disagree and said many people aren't being safe.
"We're just kinda appalled at no social distancing, no masks," Atkins said.
Earlier this week city leaders passed a resolution requiring residents and visitors to wear face coverings in public to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it will not be enforced by police and there aren't any penalties for non-compliance.
"Our cases have gone up here. We're just nervous because of all the people coming in from wherever they're coming from," Atkins said.
Despite the pandemic, Monhollon said she is not going to let COVID-19 change her holiday plans.
“This doesn’t bother me. No, that does’t bother me at all. Not in any way. I’m not going to let it bother me one way or the other,” she said.
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.
*ATTENTION - Volusia County Beach Services is reporting that NSB beaches between Flagler Av. and Crawford Av. are already at capacity and closing. Please seek other beaches and do not park where prohibited.— NSBPD (@NSBPolice) July 4, 2020