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Pinellas Beaches to Reopen Monday; Some Pools Reopen Today

Sand Key Beach | Beach | Recreation

The Pinellas County Commission also approved the Pinellas CARES financial relief programs to help individuals, families and small businesses.

PINELLAS COUNTY – The Pinellas County Commission agreed Tuesday (April 28) to conditionally reopen public beaches, public beach parking areas, and common area swimming pools.

The pools and childcare facility playgrounds may reopen as of 6 a.m. today (April 29). The beaches can reopen at 7 a.m. Monday (May 4).

Pools at hotels, motels, homeowner associations, apartment complexes and long-term care facilities are limited to 50 percent of the stated pool maximum bathing load. Owners and operators must adhere to CDC social distancing and sanitation guidelines.

Childcare facility playgrounds may reopen with CDC social distancing and sanitation requirements. However, facilities must continue to comply with the state order that requires social distancing and no groups larger than 10. Play equipment used by one group of children must be cleaned and sanitized before use by another group of children.

Public beach visitors must adhere to CDC social distancing guidelines. Groups of more than 10 are prohibited, and people not from the same family must stay at least 6 feet apart.

Public beach restrooms must meet CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. Concessions, including snack bar and kayak and chair rentals, will remain closed pending new direction from the state regarding nonessential businesses.

Sand Key Park, Fort De Soto Park and all of Fred Howard Park will reopen with the beaches. Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island state parks will remain closed until reopened by the state.

Businesses not listed as essential under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ safer-at-home order must remain closed until the state order is rescinded, expires on Thursday (April 30), or a new state order is issued. Absent new guidance from the state, Pinellas County will revert to its own safe-at-home order of March 26, subject to amendments the commission could make when it meets again at 9:30 a.m. Friday (May 1).

Commissioners said they decided to take this first step to reopen the county’s economy and amenities based on COVID-19 coronavirus trending data. Trends indicate a flattening or downward trajectory in the number of cases, number of positive test results and demand on the local healthcare system – resulting from the cooperation of citizens with the restrictions.

Pinellas County Administrator Barry A. Burton and Sheriff Bob Gualtieri received comment from health officials, municipal partners and community stakeholders before of Tuesday’s meeting. The Board also heard from Department of Health Pinellas Director Dr. Ulyee Choe on Tuesday.

Because of the ongoing risk presented by COVID-19, residents are required to continue to practice social distancing, hand washing and other good hygiene habits to protect themselves and others. Those older than 65 and/or having underlying health conditions are encouraged to take even more steps to minimize their risk of exposure.

In other action, the Board also approved the Pinellas CARES financial relief programs, which are funded through the federal (CARES) Act.

Pinellas CARES Financial Assistance will support eligible individuals and families who have lost their jobs or significant income due to COVID-19 with one-time assistance paying overdue rent, mortgage and utility bills. Payments will be disbursed directly to the utility, mortgage or other eligible agency to which the individual bills are due.

Pinellas CARES Small Business Grants will offer one-time $5,000 grants to eligible small businesses with 25 employees or less to cover expenses such as employee wages, vendor bills and rent. The emergency relief is targeted to specifically help local businesses with a commercial location in the county cover immediate financial needs caused by the pandemic.

Funds can only be used to pay for financial losses caused by the pandemic that have not already been paid for by insurance or by another federal aid program.

Additional information about how to apply to each program will be posted this week at Pinellas County.org/Covid19. The COVID-19 website also provides information about the county’s COVID response, recommendations, frequently asked questions, health information and links to a variety of assistance.

FILE PHOTO SHOWS SAND KEY BEACH.

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