Florida DEP closing all state parks to the public

The historic lighthouse built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846, and is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. It was preserved with public funding, becoming Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne. (AP photo/Alan Diaz)

As part of the ongoing effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is closing all state parks to the public.

The move, which came at the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis, takes effect beginning on Monday.

In a news release Sunday evening, the Department of Environmental Protection said it has tried taking steps to keep state parks open while also limiting public gatherings.

“Unfortunately, this has not resulted in the reductions needed to best protect public health and safe as Florida continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the agency said.

The closure follows previous measures such as canceling events and activities, as well as closing state park beaches, to keep large groups from gathering at the parks.

It’s unclear how long state parks will remain closed.