BROWARD (CBSMiami) – A steady rain washed out Memorial Day in South Florida but it did not dampen the excitement of people in Broward looking forward to a reopening of beaches on Tuesday morning.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said recent scenes of beachgoers elsewhere in Florida not practicing social distancing is cause for concern and shows that Broward make the right move by opening after Memorial Day.
“We witnessed cluster gatherings, people not wearing masks,” he explained. “People not respecting social distancing. So, if that’s an example of what we would see on our own beaches, we’re taking the right steps.
“People have to be smart about this. We can’t have an officer on every corner.”
When beaches reopen Tuesday there will be strict rules in place. The beaches will be open from sunrise to sunset and the beaches will be for active use only, which means swimming, surfing, running, walking and wading. Social distancing will be enforced and sunbathing will not be allowed.
Dania Beach Mayor Lori Lewellen said they’re trying to protect the public.
“We want to do this once and only once and then at some point in time, open up further,” she said.
The Dania Beach Pier will reopen Tuesday morning to fishermen and social distancing will be enforced on the pier. Lewellen said officers with the Broward Sheriff’s Office and from the city’s code enforcement unit will be on patrol.
“We want to make sure we educate people,” she explained. “We don’t want to criminalize this.”
Across Broward, there is some fear that since Miami-Dade beaches are closed until June 1 there could be an uptick of people on Broward’s beaches. Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper said a plan is in place if beaches get too crowded.
“If they’re not cooperating and we find that we’re inundated from other areas that are coming to our beaches, we will reserve the right to have to shut them down,” Cooper said.
Hallandale Beach does not plan to open its south beach public parking area for the time being. Cooper said the city is looking at the limited beach reopening as a way for residents to use the amenity at their back door.
“It’s their backyard and, to me, we’re opening up their backyard for them,” she said.
Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, Trantalis and the mayors of Broward’s coastal cities will hold a joint news conference on Tuesday morning in Fort Lauderdale to announce the reopening plans. The mayors we spoke with believe reopening beaches in a limited way is an important step in an slow return to normalcy.
“People were feeling stir crazy and they felt denied something that is so important to who we are in South Florida,” Trantalis said. “Many of us live here for the beach, the open air and the sea.”