A southwest Florida city closed its beaches Sunday, a week after they were reopened, because visitors were not following social distancing guidelines to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to city officials.
The beaches of Naples, located in Collier County, were reportedly crowded on Saturday. As a result, the City of Naples announced that it would be shutting its beaches down.
“The City of Naples will be closing all public beaches within city limits effective 12:01 am on Sunday, May 10, 2020 until further notice,” the city said in a statement. “All beach accesses, beach restroom facilities, parking areas, the Pier, Lowdermilk Park, and walkways will be closed at 12:01 am on Sunday, May 10, 2020.”
The Naples City Council will now hold an emergency meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday over when to reopen the beaches. Boat launches, beach access, and the emergency order will be discussed.
Naples residents blamed tourists for packing the beaches.
“They were coming by carloads from the East coast just like they knew they would and we’re ill prepared to handle it. Epic Fail on part of the council and new mayor,” one person wrote on the city’s Facebook page.
Added another: “When they reopen it needs to be for Residents only. I am confident that we can follow the rules. What happened today was not caused by Locals. Another option is no beach chairs. Just walking and swimming.”
Some locals also said that they didn’t see anyone on the beach violating social distancing guidelines over the weekend. Others said local officials should just regulate the beaches, not close them entirely.
Naples Councilman Gary Price said the crowded beach situation was brought to his attention before he went to the beaches to examine them.
“I went to the beach,” Price told the Naples Daily News. “It was packed. People were parking everywhere, blocks away.”
Price noted that the closures will cause inconvenience to Naples residents but stressed it was done to protect people.
“It’s pretty sad,” he said. “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.”
Last week, Miami Beach officials closed a public park about five days after it reopened after park rangers issued numerous warnings to people not wearing face masks to ward off the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus.
It came after beaches throughout Florida reopened after Gov. Ron DeSantis authorized them to do so. Barbershops, hair salons, and nail salons reopened on Monday, May 11.
The CCP virus had killed 1,735 people and infected 40,982 people in Florida as of Monday, according to the state’s health department figures.