The confusion about public beaches during the coronavirus pandemic continues as Naples, Florida, closed its beaches due to crowding on Sunday. The state continues to seek a way for beaches and other public spaces to be open with social distancing in place. But this weekend, the crowds were packed too close together. The City of Naples opted to close the beaches altogether starting at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.
According to a report by Naples Daily News, a notice from the City of Naples went out on Saturday evening saying that the beaches would be closed on Sunday in alignment with Gov. Ron DeSantis' Executive Order 20-112, and with public health guidance from the CDC. City Councilman Gary Price told reporters that he received a text from a friend over the weekend warning him that the dense crowds looked like a problem. Price said he went to the beach himself to have a look.
"I went to the beach. It was packed. People were parking everywhere, blocks away," Price said. "It's pretty sad. It's such a popular place. We'll figure it out. We are doing this to keep people safe. We are erring on the side of caution."
Naples Daily News published photos of the scene as well — many beachgoers were clearly less than six feet apart from each other, and both the sand and the water were packed tight with folks enjoying the temperate weather.
The closures reportedly included the beaches themselves, all accesses, public restrooms, parking areas, the Pier and one nearby park as well. On Monday, the Naples City Council has scheduled an emergency meeting to confer on the beaches and other public spaces that are becoming a health hazard. This will reportedly include boat launches and beach access. The meeting begins at 1 p.m.
Beaches continue to be one of the biggest sources of contention in the U.S. as frustrated people call for public places to reopen, despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is still escalating. Many argue that outdoor spaces are safer, and that social distancing should keep people safe. Some at least want to see public areas open for exercise, since it can help boost immune function and keep a person healthy.
Still, many beaches in Florida have already gone past exercise, permitting visitors for sunbathing and enjoying the outdoors. Others technically have restrictions in place that visitors should be walking or jogging, but these have proven easy to get around in many cases. For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization.