Flagler County’s vacation rentals may operate again after a two-month hiatus forced by a governor’s order in response to the coronavirus emergency. Rentals may resume immediately.
Flagler and Florida Beaches
Flagler County and Flagler Beach have agreed to reopen all 18 miles of beach in the county 24 hours starting Sunday at 7 a.m., while maintaining restrictions only on certain activities on the beach: “for leisure, no, for exercise, yes,” as Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney put it this afternoon.
Flagler Beach and Palm Coast residents reacted with glee and gratefulness this morning as they walked the beaches again, but in surprisingly small numbers, while city officials continue to caution against a still-prevalent viral threat.
The Flagler County Commission and Flagler Beach reopened their beaches partially starting Wednesday, but officials’ cautions against a premature, broader reopening are not all on the same page.
After sustaining intense pressure from residents and from county officials, and with beaches reopened to the north and south, Flagler Beach plans to re-open its beach on a limited basis starting Monday morning, as would the county.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, argued that the ordinance is unconstitutional on a series of grounds, including that it violates privacy and due-process rights.
Flagler County government officials are under pressure to at least partially reopen the beaches on the Volusia model, where walking, swimming and surfing is allowed, but they cite several reasons why that would be ill-advised for a few weeks yet.
The lawsuit was filed by Santa Rosa Beach lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder amid debate about whether groups of beachgoers — including spring break crowds of college students — have worsened the spread of COVID-19, the deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
A few people were defying the coronavirus-inspired order to stay off Flagler’s beaches in the mistaken belief that their were on their own private property, but on the whole people were complying well.
Hammock Beach residents have written the Palm Coast mayor and called into the city, claiming visitors and groups at the resort are still gathering and potentially placing local residents at risk. The resort says the claims are inaccurate, and that it is taking all precautions in line with rules and recommendations.