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Ormond Beach Observer Friday, Mar. 20, 2020 2 weeks ago

Volusia to close all beach access ramps this weekend

The beach remains open, but cars won't be able to drive on the beach this Saturday and Sunday.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

All Volusia County vehicular beach access ramps will be closed on Saturday and Sunday, a an action county officials hope will help with crowd control as the coronavirus situation continues. Volusia County's case count remains at 9.  

This follows the closing of all ramps in New Smyrna Beach on Friday, March 20, which County Council Chair Ed Kelley called a "test run" during a press conference on Thursday,  March 19. The county hopes that these additional safety measures will also aid Volusia County Beach Safety staff in managing beachgoers to enforce the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include limiting groups to 10 people or less and staying six feet away from other groups of people. 

"Each day changes, and this will give us a better understanding of what we need to do after the weekend and see if we can go forward with the same, or change," Kelley said.

At the press conference, County Manager George Recktenwald said that 70% of those who used access ramps in the last few days were Volusia County beach passholders. He's confident the county will be able to handle keeping beaches open with these new actions.

“I believe that’s it’s the best interest to still provide, where we can, places for people to be able to be outside and be in an environment, and by doing this, you’re giving a lot of acreage back to people that they can enjoy," Recktenwald said.

He said the county will continue to work with the Florida Department of Health and consult the CDC moving forward, and that should a recommendation be put in place that people avoid public areas, the county would revisit its decision to keep beaches open.

"I think the right thing to do is what we’re doing, and sometimes that’s not always the easiest way of doing it," Recktenwald said.

Mayor Derrick Henry, whose been vocal about limiting access to beaches from the start, said these decisions are being made in the best interest of Volusia County. He encouraged residents to utilize different avenues to get fresh air.

“Take that natural walk through your neighborhood," Henry said. "Find ways to enjoy the parks that may remain open.”

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood reminded the public that it has now been a week since President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency.

“This is evolving — every week, every day, the situation changes and there’s a lot of people here who are trying to do the best that they can do to protect our community and balance the interests of our community," he said.

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