The pier will open with some restrictions. While all visitors will be allowed on–pass-holders and other ticket-holders–they will be limited to 50 people on the pier at any one time. Personnel at the tackle shop beneath the A frame will be counting visitors. Once on the pier, people will see markings on the planks meant to ensure respect for social distancing: there’ll be no huddling of fishermen or visitors.
“If you have an annual pass you can go on, if you want to walk out you can,” Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney said,”as long as there’s not 50 people there.”
The pier will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The reopening is in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis moving Florida to Phase 2 reopening after the emergency, with allowances in public places for gatherings of up to 50 people. The city reopened its boardwalk last week, but kept the picnic tables closed. The picnic tables will now reopen. But fishing on the Beach and the walking of pets will continue to be permitted only north of 10th Street North and south of 10th Street South.
The decision for reopening the pier was reached in consultation with the Flagler Health Department, Larry Newsom, Flagler Beach’s city manager, said today. “We don’t make a move unless we have coordination,” he said.
“We recognize the importance of opening the Flagler Beach Pier, as well as the picnic areas on the Boardwalk,” the department’s chief, Bob Snyder, said. “We support the decision to open the Pier in a manner that emphasizes social distancing and other public health best practices.”
The pier has had it rough for the past four years, losing 160 feet of its east end, including the broader, t-shaped fishing platform. That reduced the pier’s length to 630 feet. It was closed after Hurricane Matthew for 15 months. This time, the elements had nothing to do with the closure.
“I feel good about the fact that Flagler County is doing their job as far as citizens on keeping the rate down as far as the virus,” Newsom said. “That’s what’s allowing us to do more than what a lot of cities and counties can do, so as city manager I have to give citizens kudos.”
Meanwhile, Newsom said, he had plans on his desk for a $14 million, 1,000 foot concrete pier that he said could be built within the next three years, on the south side of the existing pier. The existing pier would remain, because of its iconic status. Newsom said the city has already secured a $10.8 million obligation from the federal government.