As St. Johns County beaches close, boat ramps remain open

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County beaches have officially closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, but many people still hit the water on Sunday.

Despite the closure of beaches, boat ramps, parks, green spaces and trails in St. Johns County remain open for the public.

News4Jax received complaints about the Palm Valley Boat Ramp. When we went there to check it out, it appeared there was not a long line for boaters and people who were standing around the ramp were keeping their distance.

There was a good number of people out on the water, but Jennifer Vorburger said she saw people doing what they could to keep their distance from one another.

“There was quite a few people out on the water, but I was pleasantly surprised that people really were keeping their distance. We beached up on a couple of different beaches and people were definitely keeping their distance from each other, so it was good to see. I didn’t see any boats that were anchored to each other," Vorburger said.

An employee at a business near the boat ramp told News4Jax that they want people to come out to the business, but they also want people to stay safe.

“It’s simply operating in a black-and-white world, not operating in any of the gray areas,” said the employee, who did not wish to be named.

He said the business has been able to take care of its employees, keeping them busy with projects, though parts of their business have been hit harder due to the pandemic.

“We all need to follow our leaders’ instructions to make use that we can knock this out as quickly as possible and resume to normal life again, because the new normal, it’s not my favorite," said the employee at the business, which has shifted to to-go orders only and is separating its employees from customers.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday directed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to issue an emergency order to enforce social distancing on waterways. Under the order, there must be no more than 10 people onboard a boat and there must be at least 50 feet between recreational vessels.

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