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Longboat Key Monday, Aug. 10, 2020 1 month ago

Longboat Key's public beach parking remains closed for at least two more weeks

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Public beach parking, town facilities and many amenities will remain closed because of concerns about COVID-19.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Longboat Key’s COVID-19 closures and restrictions will continue for at least another two weeks.

Town Manager Tom Harmer issued his latest executive order Monday morning with no changes.

As with Harmer’s July 27 order, it keeps the following places closed: public beach parking, town facilities to the public, the public restrooms at Bayfront Park and Joan M. Durante Park, and the town’s Bayfront Park Recreation Center.

Harmer is set to re-evaluate his latest executive order on or before Aug. 24.

Longboat Key first closed its 12 public beach access points in March as the pandemic took hold. Pubic beach parking reopened in June before Harmer closed it again on June 30.

Beaches to the north in Manatee County and south on Lido Key and Siesta Key remain open.

Longboat Key’s public beach parking closures take into account the island’s older demographics; about 69% of the town’s full-time population of about 7,000 residents are older than 65 years old. Older people tend to be more susceptible to problems related to COVID-19.

Data from the Florida Department of Health shows Longboat Key’s 34228 ZIP code has 27 positive COVID-19 cases in Manatee County and fewer than five in Sarasota County.

Meanwhile, Longboat Key staff is also waiting to see if Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Office further extends Florida municipalities’ ability to operate virtually. DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-179 allows for municipalities to conduct regular meetings virtually until Sept. 1.

“We’re hopeful that he’ll extend regular meetings beyond Sept. 1 to give municipalities flexibility as we move into the fall,” Harmer said.

The last in-person town commission meeting was in March, and that was a socially distanced meetings with few chairs for members of the public. 

In July, the town passed an emergency mask ordinance, requiring people to wear face coverings in public areas where social distancing guidelines cannot be met with certain exceptions. The town’s emergency mask ordinance remains in effect until Sept. 1.

 

DeSantis’ order also provides municipalities the ability to operate virtually for budget hearings until Oct. 15 and value adjustment boards until Dec. 15.

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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