Fort Myers Beach follows new governor’s orders to close beaches

Beaches in Southwest Florida were packed with people yesterday, which is the opposite of what is being said needs to be done to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). That’s why Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties have closed down its beaches.

Authorities are now patrolling the Southwest Florida coast and kicking people out if they’re found in areas that have been closed by governor’s order.

We visited Fort Myers Beach Friday and spoke to Mayor Anita Cereceda about enforcement of new restrictions the town is following.

“I think people understand the severity of the issue,” Cereceda said. “And they’re doing all they can to protect themselves, their friends and their neighbors.”

Lee County deputies and park rangers are patrolling. Their mission is not to arrest but to educate, so people voluntarily comply. And it seems to be working

“What is extraordinary absolutely extraordinary is the compliance we’re getting,” Cereceda said.

Parking lots are taped off, and street traffic is light.

“Nothing like this has ever happened in my lifetime,” Cereceda said.

But, despite the main attraction closed off, people are finding their way to the town, biking along the boulevard, stopping by open restaurants.

The mayor has daily calls with other officials on coronavirus pandemic to keep updated. Cereceda also added the business owners were not complaining but asking how they could help.

Meanwhile, the mayor has an important message for everyone still contemplating enjoying a day at the beach.

“I think that if you aren’t here right now, you shouldn’t come,” Cereceda said. “You should wait. You should stay in place until we have a better grip on this. And, if you are here now, I think you should seriously contemplate returning to your home. Simple as that.”

Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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