Just three days after reopening beaches for a few hours a day, 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.
The reopening, more than a month after the beaches were initially shut down in response to the coronavirus emergency, is a big victory for those who have been pressuring local governments to lift restrictions. It comes with the blessing of the Flagler Department of Health, according to Doughney. But it was not a response to anything more than compliance with existing social distancing rules.
“Today’s decision was not a knee jerk based on pressure from the outside, whether it be a rally or a concern,” Doughney said, referring in part to a political, pro-Trump rally earlier today in Flagler Beach that also shaded into protest against keeping beaches and businesses closed. “It was calculated based on support from the Department of Health and compliance from the community, so the community getting their beach back for longer hours is up to their amazing compliance over the last week.”
The beaches will be open but Flagler Beach will maintain its no-parking restrictions along the boardwalk, and will keep the pier closed for now.
The county and Flagler Beach were expected to issue a joint press release later this afternoon.
“We are supportive of the beach reopening decision made by community leaders,” Florida Department of Health Chief Bob Snyder was quoted as saying in a county statement on its Facebook page. “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.”
Doughney repeatedly placed the credit for the reopening on community compliance with social distancing recommendations. “We had agreed if those things did occur that we would extend the hours so kudos to the community for being patient and understanding,” he said.
Gathering in large groups is still not allowed on the beach, neither are commercial activities, group sports, and activities that do not require motion, such as sunbathing or sitting. Items not allowed on the beach include blankets, chairs, coolers, umbrellas, tents, and any item that promotes idling. Gatherings must be limited to 10 people or less, with distancing from other parties still at a minimum of six feet.
Parking areas in the county’s portion of the beaches will open on Tuesday, so county employees have time to clean rest rooms and remove barriers.
The beaches are reopening on another day of spiking Covid-19 confirmations in Flagler County, with the total number rising to 116 today, an addition of 10 new cases in 24 hours, after adding 28 cases on Thursday. But hospitalizations, an indication of the proportion of severe cases, remains stable at a total of eight since the emergency began, with no indication of an uptick in line with rising Covid-19 cases this week. The caveat: the numbers the Department of Health provides for Flagler does not indicate if any of the county’s individuals infected with Covid-19 are hospitalized outside the county.
Some 1,225 Flagler residents have been tested since the emergency began, still less than 1 percent of the county’s population, while 335,000 Floridians have been tested. A test indicates the status of a patient only at that moment: it is entirely possible that people tested, say, two or three weeks ago, who tested negative, could have contracted the disease since. In Florida, almost 31,000 cases have been confirmed, but federal, state and local officials have repeatedly said that the figures are an undercount. Flagler County Emergency Management Chief Jonathan Lord this week said he thinks there are “thousands” of cases in the county. But the upside to the number is that while high, it may indicate that the proportion of complications from the disease may be lower than initially believed. Further, the trend indicating emergency room visits involving coughs or fevers has been somewhat downward since March 25, as has the trend regarding shortness of breath, if a little less so in those cases.
The level of testing available at the moment is not sufficient to allow the county, or most communities around the nation, to do what is essential if the country is to recover a semblance of normalcy: massive testing that enables community surveillance, and contact tracing on an equally massive scale when cases are confirmed.
Nevertheless, three states, including Georgia, reopened their economy late this week, and Gov. Ron DeSantis’s stay-at-home orders, including a restriction or ban on bars, gyms and restaurants’ operations, is set to expire on April 30. (Restaurants have been allowed to provide take-out service only.) On Friday, Palm Coast unveiled its phased plan to a recommended reopening. The county has not issued a plan.
[This is a developing story. More soon.]
Just plain stupid.
B. Informed says
The numbers in Flagler are rising! OUR apex is suppose to be May 5 ! So, let’s open the beaches! So all of those quarantined for 14 day (yeah right) Hammock Dunes Resort out of towners can get their sun fix!
WE should make sure that the beaches at the least are open ONLY to residents, for now.
I still think we are inviting all sorts of trouble opening them up right now.
So you can go to jungle hut beach and park and go for a walk ?
Deputy sheriff says
Idiots !!! People will be coming from all counties to visit the beach . Get ready for a massive outbreak ! Stupid ass people , atleast wait a few more weeks to play it safe and let the numbers plateau !
Steve Vanne says
Deputy just stay home lock yourself up in your house tape all your windows up and you’ll be okay relax.
Ok so what about the Parks am trails?
One on Palm Coast
Yes because sitting by yourself or family members is SO DANGEROUS to others.
Thank you! WHAT is the problem with sitting on my beach chair by myself, *hundreds of feet away* from others?
This whole “beach closure” thing has been made into A Thing UNNECESSARILY. And I am damned tired of it and the idiocy surrounding it. Idiots are in charge–they have to be idiots. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be maintaining such an idiotic policy. Yes, the whole “you have to keep moving” motif is completely and totally idiotic, but especially so if you’re talking about individual people who are on the beach BY THEMSELVES to begin with.
I have lived here 16 almost 17 years. Been to the beach once. Hated it. I didn’t move here for sand, sun, and water…makes no difference to me open or not, just as long as social distancing is enforced so COVID doesn’t continue to spread. Coincidence we had a spike in cases 5 days after beaches opened? Nope. Coincidence Wisconsin had its highest jump in cases one week after their election? Nope. Georgia is on the clock.
I went into Publix today and AGAIN people do not know their directions or how to socially distance. I had to block the aisle with my cart until some idiot fumed enough (on deaf ears too since IDGAF about how put off he was ‘cause HE can’t follow directions) and he and his mask-less self turned around and went the way he was supposed to go. I’m over that. It’s simple freaking instructions. Publix needs to change their rules and stop allowing people inside without face coverings AND they need to have someone at the end of each aisle directing people since they obviously skipped arrows and “X’s” in grade school. Unreal.
I intentional don’t wear a mask or follow the instructions on the floor at Publix. Just to piss people like you off.
So instead of “blocking the aisle” and being (what sounds like ) a bully!!! Could you possibly have told him politely that he was going the wrong way??? Did you have to then and now be an ass?? I was in a Publix I never go to. Just stopped to pick some things up out of the county. I did NOT see the arrows and x’s since I was looking up to see what aisle I needed to go too since again…it wasn’t a Publix I go too. I was fortunate enough to have someone without an attitude POLITELY point the signs out. They even asked if I needed help finding anything!!! If some people stopped being asses perhaps…maybe…things would be a little easier!!!
Gary R says
Actually the arrows and X’s in Publix is childish. They need to grow up and put traffic signals in and horns on the shopping carts.
This whole episode has unleashed every closet bully in every town and city across this continent. There is nothing more frightening to me than this actual fact, particularly with all the guns just hanging around, begging to be shot.
I carried a weapon continuously in the military and I currently also own several weapons, which are all locked up with a dead bolt in one area..( note, before you start freaking out). With that being said… I have NEVER EVER heard any kind of weapon or ammunition; scream, beg or even say ONE SINGLE WORD!! I guess this quarantine is messing with people’s imaginations more than we thought. Smh..🤦🏻♀️ 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️
Mark P says
Do you realize how much it would cost us to have a person at each aisle doing that? We will stop treating you all like animals, when you all can stop acting like animals.
Maria Darcy says
Why no parking along the boardwalk? So the couple in their 70’s that want to pull up and smell the fresh air, enjoy the view, order take out, are still restricted from doing so? Just the lawmakers having to have control, this will not be forgotten when it’s time to go to the polls.
THE SKY IS NOT FALLING. You people going out and complaining about the behavior of others should just STAY HOME. One of you (@well) is going to get your ass whipped, because you are not the shopping police. Quit telling everyone what to do, because nobody is listening.
Lynne A says
This is great news. The way people drive in neighborhoods has been crazy and since I can’t walk a long way and don’t live near a path, getting to go to the beach again at 7am or 7pm for a brisk half hour walk will be awesome! I broke my foot and had reconstructive surgery 8/8/19 and need to get back in the sand. It would be great to rest on a towel or blanket but I totally understand why they don’t want us doing that. We all need to just follow the rules. All of us! C’mon people we can do this!
Hopefully “THIS” Jacksonville Brain Trust young lady will not come to Flagler Beach:
This is the mentality that surrounds us!
Stop taking everything you see and hear on the Internet at face value!
Unafraid American says
Covid madness has crippled this country. If you’re afraid wear a mask, stay home. The numbers don’t warrant the response we’ve taken. People today are the most unhealthy in our history. No wonder they drop dead from Covid. If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.
Proud American says
Making progress but not enough. Once again for the ones in the back who still don’t have common sense.
It’s ok to be outside, it’s not ok to Be inside.
We can sit on our beaches, they are ours. There are no surfaces oN the beach to have germs. It’s fresh air, sun, ocean waves, nature cure for both your mental and physical health. Publix Walmart etc…are open, full of people, indoors, and plenty of surfaces for germs.
You can do what you want and what YOU think is the best for you, but you cannot Impose your choices on others.
We need to get back to normal. Our life and future depend on it!
ben theer says
@ Proud American….No one will argue that the beaches are great for all you stated, mental and physical health. I doubt most people would disagree, however….here comes the big but…in opening the beaches you are now potentially inviting people from out of state to come into our area…thus bringing with them the virus.
Not so much that ohhh my they will be on the beach, no it’s more than that if you think about it.
Bob Ziolkowski says
Great for most everyone else since we have been going all along. Today (Sat.) tow deputies were called to Surf Club since a someone complained that a family was in one spot, and another couple were near by. We walked behind them on the walkover and they went north so we went south, on our daily walk. I guess today is the last day we will see them!!!!!!
If they kept them closed, people would complain.
If they opened them fully, people would complain.
Which do you want?
Talk about a VIRUS....it came from Georgia...its call Mullins says
Let me get this right, it was not Joe Mullins pounding his chest that got this done, right? Mulins would like for the county to believe it was all his doings that has moved reopening in this direction. Oh wait, maybe he had something to do with the no parking until Tuesday…..that is so retarded……just like Mullins…..he is a few brain cells SHORT.
It would be nice if you opened up, beach side parking for handicap parking. There will be zero access for the handicap.
Bob Ziolkowski says
It is about time! Thanks Flagler County!
If you haven’t learned anything you should have at least learned to be a little more kinder no matter what you believe
We are all dealing with our normal stresses and this also. So be kind and don’t make nasty remarks to others opinions they are like assholes we all have them be kind!!
I’m at a loss here. I appreciate the opening of the beach. Having said that, what baffles me is this. There are city employees making sure that folks are complying with the regulations to ensure social distancing. Which I whole hardheartedly support. So can’t these same people enforce the social distancing regulations if a person is sitting in a chair? As long as the people are six feet apart what is the difference if they are sitting or standing?
I just think u all are a bunch of whimpy babies just follow the Damn Rules and we will All be fine stop carring on. Y our supposed to be adults not children!!!!!
I have no problem following well thought out rules. Being unable to enjoy the beach while sitting in a chair maintaing the required social distancing guidelines is a heck of an overreach. In my opinion, it is a rule just for the sake of a rule and should be rescinded.
I’m still waiting for an explanation as to what the difference between standing or sitting if the 6′ of separation is observed.
It is quite understandable that people are feeling cooped up during this time. The beach is a luxury of course, one that people in other states don’t even have just mere minutes away. It’s not life or death like some people seem to act, perhaps because they are just trying to hold onto something. Acting as if their feet do not touch the sand for a single moment they may simply just vanish. The fact is, there are people who do not live here, or any of the surrounding counties with beaches that are flocking here because the beaches are open. I’ve been asked by numerous out of towners, “The beach is open, right?”
Right, because the multitudes of “out of towners” in your life are all suddenly planning vacations so they can come visit because “the beach is open”. I’m sorry, but that’s just not believable….
I never stated they were in my life, but they are in my workplace as I work in an industry that caterers to travelers.
Go back home says
Hope you told them no….
Old Man Crying in the Wilderness says
“The fool who persists in his folly will become wise”
Well the idiots were out in force yesterday. While heading to Publix on 100 via A1A around 2:30-3:30 , I was freaking shocked at all the people in large groups, no mask, no social distancing on the beach, or hanging around shops not open, but still hanging around. So Flagler CTY will see an increase in infections and we can thank these idiots for that. They don’t care at all. These younger people and other stupid adult age types think the are invincible. I guess these people think its all a big joke. And it seemed the local police didn’t care either.
Therein lies the problem. Police the area around the pier where social distancing is not being observed. Leave the rest of us the heck alone. Stop punishing everybody for the actions of a few. Address the instant problem!!
Just a friendly FYI …
We all die.
It’s apart of life.
Living is the purpose of life. So… Figure it out.
CB from PC says
We need Roundabouts in all large retail establishments to insure adherence to safe traffic flow.
Stay home and you won’t see al the people . have publix deliver . Calling people idiots won’t solve the problem .
Rat Patrol says
Now we just have to keep them from walking on the Dune plantings. People are clueless