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Flagler County beaches reopen for exercise

Beaches open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

The beaches are now open 24/7 in Flagler County, for exercise only.

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Flagler County beaches reopened at 7 a.m. Sunday for exercise, Flagler County and its beachfront municipalities announced.

All 18 miles of beaches are now open for physical and mental health activities, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, according to the county.

“The overwhelming compliance with social distancing that we continue to witness in our parks and at our beaches validates that the time is right for this to occur,” said County Administrator Jerry Cameron.

Dozens were seen on Sunday in Marineland, enjoying the fresh air, exercising and fishing.

“It puts a smile on my face it’s just nice to be able to get out the house to get some fresh air and be one with nature again,” said Charlie Carubia, a fisherman from St. Johns County who comes to Flagler beaches to fish.

He told News4Jax fishermen have always practiced social distancing so their lines don’t get tangled. He also said being allowed back to the beach helps with alleviating anxiety.

“I’ve been fishing for 32 years, and every time I go fishing everyone’s at least 20 feet apart, and it’s not really an issue,” Carubia said.

Flagler County resident Vita Thompson was also happy about the reopening of the beaches.

“I’m thrilled. I love walking on the beach and I just want everybody to keep practicing the social distancing,” Thompson said.

Crescent Beach resident Martha Keen told News4Jax that while she loves the fact the beach has reopened to get some exercise, she is torn and hopes everyone remembers to maintain social distancing.

“I live in St. Johns, so I’ve gone to the beach there and it’s just people are walking to close together, and I’m down here. It’s a lot more distance between everyone,” Keen said. “I feel so blessed we get to come back here we live in Florida where we can enjoy the beach just play it safe."

Social distancing requirements remain in place with the beach reopening, as the intent is to allow for physical and mental health activities -- walking, biking, surfing and fishing -- not congregating. In addition, those fishing are allowed to carry a small cooler or container for bait and tackle use.

“We are supportive of the beach reopening decision made by community leaders,” said Florida Department of Health in Flagler County Administrator Bob Snyder. “In normal times, we advocate physical activity through walking, running, surfing and enjoying the outdoors. So ‘exercise don’t socialize,’ keep moving and don’t forget your sunblock and other protective health measures.”

The unincorporated areas of the beach -- inclusive of Beverly Beach and Marineland -- are open all day. But the county’s beachfront parking lots and restrooms may not be accessible until Tuesday to provide the county park’s staff enough time to remove barriers and clean restrooms. Parks are not open 24 hours a day -- they are open sunrise to sunset. Boat ramp usage is permitted after hours.

The city of Flagler Beach reopened its six-mile segment of the beach at the same time. But, for the time being, the city’s boardwalk, boardwalk bathrooms, parking on A1A in front of the boardwalk and the city’s pier remain closed.

Access to the beach is allowed from 3rd Street North to the northern city limits and from 9th Street South to the southern city limits. The dune walkovers on the boardwalk remain closed. Fishing on the beach and dog walking are only permitted north of 10th Street North and south of 10th Street South.

“When the beaches opened earlier this week under restricted timeframes, the level of compliance in Flagler Beach was outstanding,” said Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney. “We’re respectfully asking that all beach visitors continue to comply with CDC guidelines and abide by social distancing of at least six feet. We’ve got six miles of beaches in our City, so please spread out, stay active and stay safe.”

All residents and businesses must abide by Executive and Emergency Orders, and follow Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, to include:

  • ·Staying home except when engaged in essential services or activities.
  • Wearing cloth face coverings when out in public.
  • Practicing aggressive social distancing at all times -- people should keep a minimum of 6 feet of space between one another, and keep groups to less than 10, which includes while shopping and waiting in the checkout line.
  • Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are, or may be, sick.

In addition, those who are sick and/or told to self-isolate are to: remain at home unless seeking medical care, cover coughs and sneezes, wear a facemask around others and disinfect touched surfaces daily.

COVID-19 health-related questions or concerns should be directed to your regular healthcare provider or the Florida Health hotline at 866-779-6121.

COVID-19 business concerns should be directed to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 866-532-1440.

All other COVID-19 government services questions or concerns may be directed to a specific municipality or the Emergency Operations Center at 386-313-4200.

Check for current information on Flagler County’s website www.flaglercounty.org, and follow “Flagler County Government” or “Flagler County Emergency Management” on social media. The county’s social media team will provide updates through these official accounts:

Flagler County Government

Flagler County Emergency Management

About the Authors:

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.