Beaches Reopen: Leaders pleased with beachgoers practicing social distancing

Posted at 7:53 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 23:18:12-04

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -- After being closed for more than a month, most local beaches have reopened.

Many people, like Earl Smith and is wife who were at Clearwater Beach on Monday, said they couldn’t wait for this day to come.

"My wife said last night, we needed to be here at 9 a.m. We got here at 8:58 p.m., no traffic and people are staying six feet apart," said Earl Smith, of Dunedin.

Law enforcement will continue to patrol up and down the Clearwater Beach to make sure people are staying six feet apart and that groups are no larger than 10 people.

"The police presence is very very good and everyone seems to be staying very far apart," said Tyler Smith, who is visiting from Indiana.

"There is not as many people as I thought there would be. Groups seem to be spaced out," said Joshua Pandey.

Aerial video from our ABC Action News drone camera shows people spread out on Clearwater Beach.

Nearly 300 extra deputies are on beaches all across Pinellas County to make sure people continue to social distance.

"People are being very conscientious, very understanding. It's a beautiful day. We’ve already missed too many people days, so get your butt out here," said Earl Smith.

But at least one beach in our area ran into some problems on Monday. Pass-a-Grille Beach was ordered to shut down public parking because of too many crowds.

"The city commission decided to open 700 of the 1,000 parking spots that they have down there so that means 300 are closed and quickly reached capacity," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

However, leaders say overall they're happy with what they've seen across the county so far.

The Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says deputies will remain at beaches for at least the next week to encourage social distancing, and if beaches become too crowded, people will be turned away.