BRADENTON BEACH, Fla. — Despite still being in a pandemic, Anna Maria Island is expecting tens of thousands of people to come to their beaches this Easter weekend.
"We’re here because we love the beach," said Loretta Brownell
Loretta and Michael Brownell live in Manatee County and come to the beach even with the spring break crowds.
"We come early and leave early to beat the traffic," said Brownell.
Holmes Beach police chief William Tokajer says just this month 24,700 cars a day have been coming onto their part of the island. Officials say Easter weekend is one of the busiest weekends of the year and on the public beaches alone they're excepting 20,000 people a day on Coquina and Cortez Beaches and up to 15,000 people a day on Manatee Beach.
"It’s just a large influx of the crowd, but laws enforcement takes it very seriously and they’re able to manage that crowd fairly well," said Jake Saur, Public Safety Director for Manatee County.
Extra patrols will be out. Law enforcement says most of the people who come to the island are families and not young party crowds but they are warning people to continue to social distance.
USF Public Health professor Dr. Thomas Unnasch says the beach is fine as long as people spread out.
"When you’re outdoors try and stay as far away from people you’re not living with as possible and make sure there’s a lot of air moving," said Unnasch.
Many beachgoers say people are doing a good job of that.
"People seem to keep trying to keep that six-foot distance," said Brownell.
If you do decide to come to the beach this weekend locals recommend coming early, like around 9 a.m., to avoid heavy traffic.
Law Enforcement also wants people to remember alcohol and pets are NOT allowed on the beaches on Anna Maria Island, and those rules are strictly enforced with fines.