PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Pinellas County will open pools beginning on Thursday and public beaches on Monday, commissioners decided on Tuesday.
Pools at hotels and condos will open at 6 a.m. on Thursday. Public beaches will open at 7 a.m. on Monday.
Leaders say pools must remain at 50% capacity. Beaches are open for all activities, but social distancing measures must be followed. Parking lots will also be opening.
The beaches were closed on March 19 due to the coronavirus.
The county previously shot down the idea of reopening some of the private beaches and pools for recreation and exercise. They voted to keep them closed until at least May 1.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Pinellas County votes to close all beaches, public beach parking amid coronavirus concerns
Tuesday's vote came after County Administrator Barry Burton outlined options in a memo for the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners to consider last week.
The recommendations included reopening pools at hotels and condos, public beaches and beach parking and playgrounds at child care facilities.
“There’s a risk going to Publix. There’s a risk going to Home Depot,” said Burton. “We’re trying to find the right balance between allowing people to enjoy the outdoors, enjoy the assets that we have while also putting in measures that still keep our community safe.”
Here are the recommendations:
- Public playgrounds would stay closed.
- At beaches, groups of more than 10 would be prohibited, and people would need to stay at least six feet apart.
- Pools would need to operate at 50% capacity and be cleaned regularly.
- Child care facility playgrounds would need to be cleaned between use.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri weighed in on social media in support of opening beaches and pools. The sheriff said the county accomplished its goal in stabilizing the number of new cases, and he believes people will keep up with good social distancing.
Sheriff Gualtieri previously expressed concerns about opening the beaches and pools before the county's peak, which he said was expected April 26.
“At this time, Pinellas County residents have adjusted to the new norm of social distancing, and I believe they will continue to responsibly use these best practices on our beaches and in the pools,” said Sheriff Gualtieri in a post. “However, if necessary, PCSO has the resources to ensure compliance through a gentle reminder.”
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