Flagler Beach and Flagler County are closing their beaches to the public starting at 6 a.m. Monday, joining a growing list of coastal communities and counties doing likewise in an increasingly strict response to the coronavirus.
The Flagler Beach Pier will also be closed, and parking areas will be sealed off along the boardwalk and the pier.
City Manager Larry Newsom said today at 3 p.m. that he reached the decision after consultation with Flagler Health Department Director Bob Snyder, who recommended the move.
“We will follow suit,” County Administrator Jerry Cameron said this afternoon, regarding the county’s 12 miles of beaches. “It’s important for us to be unified, the last thing we need to do is to confuse the public.”
Snyder said he observed the beach Saturday and had concerns. He contacted Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney and the two toured the beach today.
“Matt Doughney and I toured the beach today, I was concerned,” Snyders said, “because I noticed yesterday when I drove around the beach, I did see a few pockets of people that were not practicing social distancing as we recommended, CDC and DOH,” meaning the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health. “He said Bob, let’s make a decision together, we’ll follow your guidance.” Snyder said there were “too many small gatherings and pockets of people who were not practicing social distancing, some of the folks were senior, it caused some concern. He decided along with us to let things be for today.”
Covid-19 infections have been soaring in Florida, well exceeding 800. Florida’s number may be a significant undercount because testing for the virus has only begun, relative to a dearth of test kits last week. The number of infections exceeds 21,000 in the United States.
Newsom insists that “this isn’t martial law.” He said the police does not intend to arrest violators, since the last thing the sheriff wants is to crowd the jail with more inmates and run the risk of infections there. But Newsom said the police will reserve the right to issue notices to appear to violators.
“Our primary methodology from here on out for people that do go to the beach is educate, and then educate, and then educate,” Doughney said in mid-afternoon today. “The last thing we want to do is to arrest somebody for going down to the beach.” He said the effort is entirely geared toward public safety, not punishment. But if individuals continue to flout the requests to remain off the beach, then measures will be stepped up, and such things as notices to appear and arrest affidavits could be forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office, to be dealt with beyond the emergency window.
The county had already closed its rest rooms last week. The city will close its rest rooms Monday morning. It will seal off access to the beach at walkovers, as will the county.
“We’re not the medical experts. This is a virus, this is not something that medically we’re very good at, so we have to respect the recommendations we’re getting from the medical industry,” Newsom said. “If I felt like it was safe to keep the beaches open, there’s no one more than me that would want to keep the beaches open. But I can’t do that at this point in time.”
Just last Thursday four of the Flagler Beach City Commission’s five commissioners spoke in favor of keeping the beach open, as did the mayor. “What pushes us in the other directions is we have guidance from the professionals” at the health department, Newsom said.
Commissioner Eric Cooley had been pressing toward beach closure since the middle of last week, though his store on the beach has been benefiting from the business.
“I think it’s too little, too late, I think we should have shut them down earlier, I think we should have shut them down even before I said we should have shut them down,” Cooley said, describing the beach even this afternoon as “packed,” especially along the boardwalk and picnic tables. He said the virus’s danger is its exponential rate of growth. “We put ourselves at risk by not making the changes.”
“I’m glad we’re shutting it down at all. I wasn’t sure when it was going to happen. But we waited too long. That’s the bottom line. It’s very nerve wracking, and the risk is high,” Cooley said. He said this isn’t about finger-pointing: “We can’t really point fingers or anything because this is an issue that a lot of countries are facing,” he said. But he is critical of the general tone from officials, who have sent mixed signals–and from a federal government that downplayed the problem for too many weeks, leading to a situation where “we have 50 percent of the population that is highly concerned, 50 percent that thinks it ranks up there with the common cold. Unfortunately we’re learning a lot of the facts about this virus too late. I think that’s played into it.”
Cooley continued: “We can case-study Italy and know exactly how this is going to play out, and yet we have a mental block, that we as Americans are somehow immune, and I hate to say it it’s been pushed down from our top leadership that hey, we’ll be just fine. Well, some of us will be just fine, some of us will not, and it’s real scary.” He said local numbers indicating only one Covid-19 case are irrelevant. “It’s here,” he said, ridiculing any bragging that the county doesn’t have cases. “It lulls people into this false sense of security that has driven some of this behavior, and that’s happened from the top level of government, it’s transferred to locals. We don;t need to brag that we have no cases.” He said people should be told to stay home. .
“We’re fighting a health issue and need to heed the advice of experts,” Flagler Beach Commissioner Rick Belhumeur said.
[This is a developing story. More soon.]
I hope some sleep was lost coming to that bright decision! What about right now does no one understand?
i don’t understand “social distancing”. more pc bs. how about staying away from each other? God, i cannot stand how politicians speak today. such a bunch of phonies.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
They’ve waited too late and probably wouldn’t have done this at all, had Flagler Live not covered the story. Disgusted with our city officials for allowing irresponsible Spring Breakers to take advantage of a town with indecisive leadership.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
I am so glad the Governor ordered the beaches closed. I was frankly shocked when I read Flagler Beach was intending to not to.
The governor did not issue an order to close the beaches. Not yet anyway. This was a local decision.
Debra Blazer says
And so many of our local beaches hold less than a dozen people as far as the eye can see?! This is the beauty of where we live. Don’t take that away. Don’t take away hope.
Donald Hannas says
When will they start testing in Palm Coast? I have been home sick since Monday and i can’ find a place to have a test done.
If someone has symptoms of coronavirus supposed to call the Florida State Health Depsrtment in Tallahassee. I have no idea what happens after that since no one is being up front about what happens next ie: should you then contact the ER then go to there?
Does someone come to your residence to test? Maybe I missed that part. Why this all has to be such a mystery is beyond me. I can’t think of a single valid reason why this county and city cannot be clear and concise in their direction.
This county isn’t being up front.
The ppl aren’t social distancing.
We are not seeing Any numbers and yet there’s one in ICU from Volusia county.
This shit is real and I guess some just don’t get it.
Kudos to Mr. Snyder for his professional advice. Living beach side, I was on the fence until this morning’s walk was met with a guy urinating under one of the walkovers where his gift will linger until the next rain. That little deed helped me realize the health of our community should not be left in the hands of irresponsible people. Thank you to our City Manager for adhering to the advice of the professionals at the Flagler County Department of Health.
Why are some people so stinking selfish? They think this is a joke and because they can’t follow the rules people will die and I’m not talking about anyone in politics.
Traveling Rep says
They are the same ones hoarding the TP, bottled water, and hand sanitizer…selfish to the core. I can only hope this disaster opens their eyes, and pray they have their health through their bad decisions.
I think this is total crap. Kids off school with nothing to do spells trouble. Can’t even the beach now in the morning. Might as well shut the bridge down and fold up the county.
I agree. Look if people are not social distancing issue citations etc. I remain calm by going to the beach and sitting ALONE quietly and listening to the waves. Now I can’t go? This is ridiculous.
psalm 91 read it pray it over ur frinds and family this is a sin problem wake world
Yes, this is my favorite Psalm
Question how are people going to pay their rents mortgages car punts etc?
wake up world
Too little too late, Really. Tell that to the poor bastards that have to suffer with it for weeks or worse yet succumb to it. I have never seen a bigger clueless wishy washy afraid to make a decision group in my life. How on Earth you people get in the position to decide the well being of others confounds me. The exponential increase in numbers is what I expect due to the time lag brought on by piss poor leadership. Wheres Iacocca when you need him. … smh
Our country is built from a myriad of popularity contests. Well, lately, those with the money to buy that popularity. No other qualifications required, other than to have had an active pulse in certain places for a certain amount of time. There are even places in this country where you don’t even need to be human!
People have not been taking this virus seriously and many today came from areas inland to fish and relax a little. They didn’t stop to think about the damage they might be doing. Many are still gathering in small party groups. Sadly, this will soon be very costly to those living here. You have the ability to stay in touch on Facebook and other venues. USE IT and save lives.
Stay home, and do not go out unless absolutely necessary. Your life, or someone else’s, is going to depend on it. They are losing lives every hour in NY. How much worse does it have to become before you believe it?
But…but according to the official corona tracker site, Flagler has NO cases. I mean NO cases unless someone isn’t being honest or maybe they are shipping infected people out of the county for treatment so therefore we remain at zero. I mean who would do that???
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Hmmm says: You must have missed this story about the first case of Coronavirus “tourism” in Flagler County, an individual using the AdventHealth hospital in Palm Coast rather than one in her own county. And Flagler residents were none the wiser. https://flaglerlive.com/151837/coronavirus-update-10/
Art Schwartz says
Many residents of this area were in virus denial until our leader finally, and belatedly, realized that we had a serious problem. If we have to wait for our leader for further direction we are in serious trouble. We reap what we sow.
ShelbyJean Fawley says
Really?? Your going to wait till after Spring Break to make this Decision! OMG.. Flagler being the same ole Stupid Flagler..worrying about that almighty Dollar they might loose!! This is just crazy! You let people line up their vacations for here only to snatch the rug out from under their poor feet after they get here and done spent their money!
That’s just wrong on Soooo many levels! But I get it ….cuz it’s how Flagler County operates..it Stinks but it is what it is!!! 😬🤐😧🤔😖😵😠😡
This is stupid. The virus is spread by droplets or moisture transfer. Unless someone is coughing or sneezing near you you are safe. The germs can live up to 20 hrs on metal surfaces. Is there any concerns about the thousands of people pumping gas with no gloves, getting in their vehicle and contaminating the steering wheel
Off they go rubbing their eyes and picking a winner from their nose. Which do you think has the better potential to spread germs
After pumping gas, I get in my car, spray my hands with alcohol and rub in, then I wipe down the steering wheel and my credit card.
I’ve been thinking about disinfecting my paper money LOL. Money is filthy and germy.
What about bike week? I was shocked it was allowed to go on. People were packed in like sardines at all the Flagler beach eatery’s and bars. We had Covid19 then too. That should have been cancelled. I suggested it to our government. Also, we can’t walk in on the beach outside but it’s ok to fill our grocery stores to capacity and beyond? There wasn’t a parking spot left at the Publix stores I passed by yesterday. Also hobby lobby’s lot was full. To what degree it was that next door Publix overflow is unknown. Tell me, how are they practicing social distancing in a packed store? And, I personally know people that are going to grocery stores and drug stores every day to hoard whatever they can get. I can’t go in myself as I am immunocompromised. Publix has informed me the Wednesday early shopping is for people over 65 only and I am not allowed even though I am a transplant patient. That’s discrimination. Instacart is very expensive. I’ve used them once but cannot afford to keep doing it and don’t t want to put others at risk by asking them to go. All those people shopping together are passing and catching the virus.
Lynn Carter says
Why not just patrol the beach and make the Spring Breakers behave? Why punish all the mature people? This is silly!
About damn time!
Finally–this is the responsible decision. But with Daytona Beach still open, AdventHealth Palm Coast should not be taking on cases of suspected Coronavirus from Volusia County residents. Maybe this will put more pressure on Volusia to close their beaches and take proper precautions as well. We already had one patient from Volusia County get refused service in that county and up here in one of our Urgent Cares and, subsequently, admitted to Advent Palm Coast. I know this sounds hard-hearted but Volusia County has to start being more responsible than they have, thus far shown themselves to be.
Carol Vigilante says
I totally agree! I have been saying this all along. Bike week should have been cancelled here. As far as the beaches go if you are gonna close our beached then ALL beaches should be closed!!!!! I JUST DON”T UNDERSTANDTHIS!!!!!
Concerned Citizen says
Nothing like shutting the barn door after the cows get out.
This should have been done a long time ago. But people wanted to kick and scream. And all of our local officials were only concerned about tourism dollars and not public safety. And then there are the folks who pretend that Covid-19 can’t hurt us at the beaches. It’s not about environment. It’s about contact with others. Not everyone will play by the rules so they have to take another part of the environment out of the equation.
Many cities are heading towards or are already under shelter in place rules. No travel unless it’s for essentials. If we don’t cooperate here it’s coming. And I doubt there is many of us on here that can survive a 14 day quarentine financially.
So all the people that live at the beach and normally run or walk on the beach where they can socially distance from others will now be sharing a sidewalk or trail. Stupid. Close the parking lots, not the beaches.
Silver Surfer says
Unless we are not being told the truth about the contagiousness of this virus, this is a dumb decision. If people are gathering in groups on the beach then cite them and break up their groups. People who walk on the beach practicing correct social distancing should not be punished for those who don’t do the right thing. You are letting bad apples spoil the entire barrel.
I’d rather walk the beach than walk up and down isles at grocery stores
I can’t believe how greedy people are being in the stores. Thank goodness Publix started limiting water to 2 cases. In the start of this I saw people with water, paper towels and toilet tissue piled as high as they could get it in their carts. They are hoarding big time and probably do go to the stores everyday.
They aren’t testing in Flagler, that’s why there are no high numbers.
Try and stop me from walking on the Beach and see what happens. I’ll give you assholes something to write about.
Come on…. I DARE YOU !!!!!!!
Bob Jones says
I’m 64 years old & I CALL YOUR DARE !!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m only about 25% as lethal as I was when I served in our nations military 40 years ago. I have had Parkinson’s disease for the last 10+ years and I will gladly meet you at a day & time under Flagler Beach Pier to see if you our half as Bad as your mouth is. I’m willing to go bare knuckles to see if I have the necessary skills I learned 4 decades ago serving our GREAT U.S.A. YOUR CALL, BIG MOUTH ???
First of all, your comment is awesome! And secondly, thank you for your service to our country.
Debra Blazer says
From those of us on the island: I have lived in palm coast for 11 years. On the island for 4. We have a tiny community beach. I have never, in 4 years, seen more than a dozen scattered people on our beach. And you are taking that away from us. When we are already hunkered down and scared. You have removed any hope left in me. I understand your reasoning. I have vulnerable people that live in our community. But you have taken away hope. Why not close the busy beaches? Trust in the people? Maybe I’m naive. I’ve been self quarantined for the past week and a half because I want this over as quickly and as non detrimentally (physically and financially, for all) as possible. If everyone would just be vigilant, this would end.
frank basile says
Totally agree with you. The order for the beaches ALL to be closed is very sad. Trails too. Lets see where her suicide rate goes with all this gloom and doom day in and day out.
This past wkend, there was a huge sign with lights just north of Marineland that says “Practice Social Distancing” ….
and …just north of that at the Matanzas bridge area there were prob a couple thousand people on the Estuary side…on both sides on the beaches, sandbars and anchored boats.
It was like living in 2 opposite worlds at the same time!
I don’t get it.
Lisa Freeman says
I agree. I’m disabled and the beach and see air give me comfort. I just like to go by myself and lay in my lounge chair and get much needed sun. Close it for spring break and reopen for our citizens. Please.
Eric Johnson says
Wish I didnt have to write this but….
I am an American (born and raised), lifelong Republican…..Decorated Military Vet, Four Tours and now Reserves…..Love my Country and proud to defend her (and you)
I am ashamed that our President for months was dismissing this threat to our country “as a Democratic hoax”,…”will go away with warmer temperatures”….etc etc He now is dangerously touting an anti-Malaria drug as a “game changer” and already reports are coming in from overseas that people have died from taking this medicine.
He also is telling the State Governors to “get it yourself, the federal government is not a shipping clerk” when it comes to protective equipment and ventilators for health care workers and citizens….. Months ago, he fired the CDC representative who was based in China and served as our Early Warning person and could have advised us how serious this was and instead the President relied on China to self report and they did a terrible job and delayed their problem to the world and we were all caught flat footed.
Several years ago he also disbanded the Pandemic Team based in Washington that was responsible for advising and consulting the president.
All of these are what we in the military call a “circular firing squad”…..we end up shooting ourselves.
The President now touts himself as a “wartime president”?……NO HE IS NOT. A true President/Patriot will pull out all the stops, pay any price and make any sacrifice to protect his troops (citizens). Instead for months he has downplayed this virus and has his blind. You can find the video clips of him saying these things anywhere on the internet….
This cold indifference and downplaying of the threat is why people arent taking it seriously (especially in a Republican State/County)….if the president is basically just rolling his eyes about it why should we stay off the beach etc
Only now has he started to realize that we are surrounded, with wounded and running out of ammo….now he claims to take it seriously.
Please people…this is not a drill….this is real….take care of yourselves
Thank you for seeing with a clear lens and admitting that this particular president is a horror show.
Thank you for your service, and sacrifice, and thank you for your clarity . Say it louder please, for everyone to hear.
You lost me at “dismissing this threat to our country “as a Democratic hoax””. and “He also is telling the State Governors to “get it yourself, the federal government is not a shipping clerk” “. That is not what he said. You, like the media, take one or two words and then add what you like, and take it out of context to fit a narrative. Facts are hard. Either you are just saying what you here on the news or I suspect you are a Trump Hater trying to make a point.
Are you serious says
Really? The sand is really that contaminated last time i seen peoples feet touch the sand not their hands and if someone coughs the wind carriers it like a dang kite. This is pathetic lets take the only thing people have to keep piece. I hope the people that made this decision struggle to find toilet paper where everyones hand are touching something. I cant believe peoples feet are spreading the virus. If your concerned dont go to the beach. Just another freedom the government decides for me what i can do. I know i was at the beach all weekend. There was no need in me touching ANYTHING someone else touched. My neighbors are closer to me than anyone at the beach.
This is such an overaction. Address the “few pockets of people” doing it and let the rest of us enjoy the outdoors safely. JFX
Are you people kidding me!? Crying because you can’t go to the beach for a little while. BFD! SUCK IT UP!!!!
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Flagler police should not have to risk their health “addressing” people on the beach who don’t observe social distancing. Would you want that job at this particular point in time? Three University of Tampa students who were part of the Spring Break stupidity have now tested positive. That number will surely increase.
Bob Z. says
Silly decision…seeya at the beach.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
You won’t see ME at the beach, Bob Z. But maybe we’ll see you in a ventilator, as you don’t seem to be taking this deadly virus very seriously.
Willy Boy says
Looks to be about fifty-fifty on the yea and nays. Just like the rest of the country on nearly every issue. A weak and puny society we appear.
I can understand closing flagler beach beaches but on any given day, the northern beaches in flagler county ( except for the hammock beach resort) have so few people on them you can often walk the beach for an hour and see no one. Closing the beaches should have been done selectively.
Does anyone know if beach patrol or FBPD is enforcing beach being closed