CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. — It’s the busiest time of the year in Tampa Bay. Students from most of our major counties are out of school and visitors are flocking in from around the country to enjoy Spring Break.
Clearwater police are staying busy patrolling our most popular destination: Clearwater Beach. Dozens of officers on ATVs, bicycles and on-foot are making sure groups are distanced on the sand and enforcing the beach’s alcohol ban on the beach.
The big difference between last Spring Break and this one? We know a lot more about COVID-19 and how to keep ourselves safe.
That’s why Ramu Perni of Ohio says he and his son felt safe enough to travel. Perni is a physician and has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for months.
“It’s nice to see people enjoying life a little bit. Everyone has been through so much this past year and it’s just nice to see,” he explained.
Yet, Perni is still doing everything he can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I think if we continue to do the little things like we’re doing, we still have to live our life but keep safe is the most important thing,” he added.
Clearwater police say overall that’s the sentiment as they patrol the sugary stretch of sand. While they are enforcing social distancing, they say most people are doing what’s right on their own accord.
“There’s 3 miles of beach out here. They can enjoy the weather, enjoy the sand and the surf but at the same time be safe about it,” Sgt. William Hodgson of Clearwater Police Department explained.
Businesses couldn’t be happier to welcome people back to paradise. Last year, Pinellas County shut down all of its public beaches for more than 6 weeks during late March and April to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Hannah Zerwas, who is visiting from Illinois, is happy that’s not the case this year.
“You don’t have to be like oh we can’t do this because of COVID or something. To have a little more freedom and flexibility is quite nice,” she said with a smile.
Signs posted on Clearwater Beach will continue to remind beach visitors of the rules: Social distance, limit group size, wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes and wear a mask indoors or where social distancing is not possible.
Officers also plan to stop by bars and restaurants throughout the Spring Break season to ensure mask rules are being followed.