CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Fourth of July isn't until next week, but planning for the holiday weekend is underway.
With Miami beaches closing for the holiday, a question at the top of many people's minds is whether Pinellas County beaches are going to follow suit.
Pinellas County commissioners tell us, however, they do not plan to close beaches for the July 4th holiday. They say they are impressed with how well beachgoers have handled beaches being open for the last few months, so as of now, a closure is not in the works.
Commissioner Ken Welch with Pinellas County said the areas he has been worried about are not the beaches, but rather the downtown area and bar locations where pictures have shown people standing close together without masks on.
“We believe that we have to reopen, but we have to do that intelligently and in a way that we can sustain it. If we reopen the wrong way, we’re gonna head right back towards a shutdown,” said Welch.
The Fourth of July is one of the busiest holidays for the tourism industry in Tampa Bay. Some local hotel owners tell us they're seeing a bit of a drop in bookings compared to previous years, but they're still nearing max capacity.
Pinellas County plans to continue handing out free masks for anyone who needs them.
Leaders say -- even this weekend -- if they see someone inside a building without a mask on, their first resort will be to educate the person on mask-wearing. They say ticketing will be the last resort.
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