Manatee County announces new temporary COVID-19 closures, burn ban

Manatee County announces new temporary COVID-19 closures, burn ban
Posted on 03/24/2020

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (March 24, 2020) – In an effort to further curb public gatherings on popular beaches and to protect citizens during the COVID-19 public health crisis, Manatee County officials today announced that beach access is now restricted at Beer Can (Greer) Island. Additionally, all county- and city-owned boat ramps will close temporarily Thursday, March 26 at 6 a.m. All Manatee County beaches remain closed.

Only commercial fishing operations — those with a U.S. Coast Guard Six-Pack Captain’s License and a commercial fishing license — may use Coquina South boat ramp.

During the emergency meeting, Director of Public Safety Jacob Saur said local first responders and healthcare workers are in short supply of personal protection equipment (PPE), and asked community businesses to help donating unused N-95 masks, surgical masks and gloves. Businesses interested in donating these items are asked to call (941) 744-3939.

"It’s wonderful to get outside but you need to not congregate," said County Commission Chair Betsy Benac. "Now is not the time to do it. We have to try, even in the short term. The only way we can slow this virus down is by not passing it along to one another." 

County Administrator Cheri Coryea said County officials remain hopeful that public buildings, facilities and beaches will open sooner rather than later, but decisions on whether to prolong the closures will be made leading up to April 2, when the President's initial 15 Days to Slow the Spread campaign expires.

The boat ramp closure applies to County-owned boat ramps, along with the Holmes Beach boat ramp at Memorial Park and Palmetto's Riverside Park boat ramp. Emerson Point Preserve will remain open but no vehicles or water vessels will be able to reach the sandy beach launch at the western end of the park.

County leaders stated that social distancing must be observed across the community.

MCAT's Beach Express and Beach Connection service has been discontinued but the Anna Maria Island Trolley is still operating.

County Commissioners extended a local state of emergency today at 9 a.m. The emergency declaration was one of two items on today's agenda. The other was a resolution declaring a temporary burn ban due to "hot, dry, parched, drought and windy conditions."

Under the seven-day temporary burn ban, Manatee County residents may continue to use outdoor cookers or grills as long as they are attended by a responsible adult at all times the unit is burning, cooking or otherwise in use. Fireworks, sparklers, flares, campfires and open burning would all be temporarily prohibited under the burn ban. Residents can expect the burn ban to be renewed weekly until the area receives enough rainfall to decrease the threat of brush fires.

Today's archived meeting can be viewed at www.mymanatee.org/mga and locally on Spectrum channel 644, Verizon channel 30 and Comcast channel 20.

For local updates on the coronavirus, visit or www.mymanatee.org/coronavirus

For more information on Manatee County Government, visit www.mymanatee.org or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manatee.county.fl and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.