Collier County Commissioners met for a special meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the upcoming 4th of July Holiday and the impacts that might be felt due to the closure of east coast beaches.
They first heard from John Drew from the Florida Health Department who confirmed that COVID-19 cases have indeed been on the rise during the last two weeks, as well as hospitalizations.
Representatives from both Physician Regional and Naples Community Hospital both reported that they did have adequate capacity at this time. John Kling from NCH reported that they had seen a doubling of positive patients in that period and they presently had 93 patients admitted and that 5 were on ventilator assistance.
The county has seen increases in both the Golden Gate and Immokalee communities and hospitalizations have been seen across the age spectrum.
Collier County Beach Restrictions
The county followed their previously endorsed plan to only allow beaches to be open from sunrise to 11 AM and 5 PM to dusk from July 3rd to July 6th. Parking will be restricted to Collier County residents only. Once the Dade and Broward Beaches are reopened the County Manager will be authorized to reopen the county beaches.
During the debate, Commissioner McDaniel suggested that the county not close their beaches at all but allocate more resources to monitor social distancing and activities. Another discussion was held on keeping those beaches closed in the evening to eliminate fireworks usage.
Board members Saunders, Taylor, and Fiala voted in favor of the restricted hours. Commissioner Solis and McDaniel opposed the limitation of hours and residency.
Marco Island Beach Access
The City of Marco Island has chosen to take similar restrictions as the county in reinstituting the Memorial Day restrictions regarding the access points to the beach which they control.
Residents will be able to access the beach through the two neighborhood access points from 6 AM to 11 AM from Friday, July 3rd through the holiday weekend. Residents will again be allowed access from 5 PM to dusk each day to enjoy the sunset.
This will coincide with the Collier County’s restrictions. The County’s South Beach parking and access point at South Beach will be manned by county personnel and limit parking to those with Collier County Beach Parking Permits. Added county personnel will be posted at both the Caxambas Boat Ramp and Tigertail Beach.
Strict no–parking enforcement will be maintained by the Marco Island Police Department on all city streets and private parking areas will be closed or restricted.
It is anticipated that MICA will maintain hours at the Marco Island Residents Beach facility at Collier Boulevard and San Marco Road. Those facilities are restricted to Marco residents who belong to MICA.
Commissioners chose not to require mandatory wearing of masks after a lengthy discussion. All county employees dealing with the public are presently required to wear masks. The public is required to wear masks in some of those facilities that require interaction with employees.
Colonel Bloom of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office testified that enforcing mask–wearing would be a difficult task at best. Commissioner McDaniel also emphasized the need to concentrate on education, rather than mandated by the Commission.
The board would be creating a Resolution that would strongly encourage the wearing of masks within public places in the future and emphasizing education as to proper wearing and the need for masks rather than mandating.