SARASOTA, Fla. — Sarasota County announced it will reopen its county-owned beaches on Monday.
"I am super excited. I can't wait to get to the sun. I've been in the house for a long time now," said Tashia Early.
Beaches like Siesta Key will reopen to the public. Parking will also be available at county-owned beaches on May 4.
Right now, people must only use the beach for exercise like swimming or running.
"Just looking at people today, I can see how people are spread apart. You see small groups of people, see a lot of space between them," said Early.
The county said chairs, coolers and canopies will also be allowed starting on Monday. The county stressed people must maintain social distancing and keep to groups to 10 people or less.
"We will be easing the restrictions of what you can do on the beaches. We will allow chairs, coolers and umbrellas. We are asking people to really take ownership and responsibility and follow CDC guidelines," said Nicole Rissler, Sarasota County's Director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department.
Concessions, playgrounds, amenities and picnic shelters will remain closed and are planned for opening as part of Phase 3 of beach reopening.
County-operated pickleball and tennis courts will open on May 2.
"It's really a group effort between our lifeguards, our park staff as well as our law enforcement partners to really educate people of the importance of not congregating and staying 6 feet apart...no more groups bigger than 10," said Rissler.
Lido Beach will remain closed at this time. The beach is owned by the city of Sarasota.
"Our decisions on reopening the public beach and other city facilities and amenities will be guided by science and data and will be made in consultation with health professionals and our state and regional partners to ensure a smart and sustained recovery," said Jason Bartolone, City of Sarasota Communications Specialist.