NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – People flocked to New Smyrna Beach on Friday, forcing the beach approach on Flagler Avenue to close at 10 a.m. because it already reached maximum capacity.
The city’s mayor addressed the issue on crowds during a Facebook video on Thursday and claimed that some residents feel vulnerable and exposed once visitors are off the sand.
“The concern is as they’re coming to and from the beach and they’re stopping at our community, touching gas handles, and being at gas stations, at restaurants and grocery stores. That’s just increased exposure for our elderly and at-risk residents that isn’t necessary every weekend,” said Mayor Russ Owen.
Owen said he's approached the Volusia County Council with a possible solution, which is rolling back a phase to where only essential activities would be allowed on the beach during the weekend.
"Folks are able to walk, run, exercise, jog, swim on the beach but not come to the beach to stay. So, that would hopefully make it attractive and open to locals but keep that community spread risk down," he said.
During Friday's council briefing, County Chair Ed Kelley told News 6 he's been in contact with Owen and will work together with city and county officials on how to move forward.
“This isn’t fun for us to have to shut down these great public amenities that are so much a part of who we are. I want to try and take a balanced approach, see if this will address the issue and then if we need to go further, we always can,” Owen said.