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Pinellas Beaches Will Remain Closed, For Now

An aerial picture of Clearwater Beach.
Pinellas County Marketing and Communications
Clearwater Beach, along with other Pinellas County beaches, will remain closed because of the coronavirus. County Commissioners did not vote on a proposal to reopen beaches at their meeting Thursday.

Pinellas County Commissioners did not vote Thursday on easing restrictions to local beaches, but it’s still under consideration.

During a three-hour public meeting, commissioners discussed the plan to ease numerous restrictions -- including access to beaches. The state order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis April 1 does not force municipalities to close beaches, but many counties have to prevent people from gathering in large groups. 

RELATED: Pinellas Commissioners To Consider Easing Beach Restrictions

A Zoom presentation laid out to commissioners what needs to happen first:

  • a reduced number of coronavirus cases for 14 consecutive days,
  • the ability to test all residents with symptoms the same day,
  • proper protective equipment for medical first responders “without resorting to crisis measures.”

RELATED: Floridians Take To Social Media With Beach Closure Frustrations In Midst Of Coronavirus Crisis

They also took public comment on the potential reopening of condominium pools, as well as deeming pet groomers as an "essential business."

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said opening condo pools, but not those at hotels, apartments, and country clubs would be unfair. He also said the county is partially limited by state orders, but more restrictive local measures were carefully considered before being passed.

He urged patience.

"If we remitted every single exception for everybody who thinks their business is essential, there would be no stay-at-home order because nobody likes it,” Gualtieri said. “And we get that."

The commission apologized for implying there would be a vote Thursday about easing beach restrictions. They also extended the local state of emergency another week.

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I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.