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City of Naples closes beaches; emergency meeting Monday

The city of Naples closed its public beaches at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. City leaders said the beaches were overrun with beachgoers to start the weekend, so the move is a continued effort to stop the possible spread of the coronavirus.

According to the city press release, “In an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and alignment with CDC guidance and Governor DeSantis’s Executive Order 20-112, the City of Naples will be closing all public beaches within city limits effective 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, May 10 until further notice.”

Per the city, that means all beach accesses, beach restroom facilities, parking areas, the Naples Pier, Lowdermilk Park and walkways will be closed just after midnight Sunday.

“There was literally like people everywhere,” Ellanda Francois said. “We didn’t even know where to sit. It was crazy.”

That also concerned Naples neighbors such as Teresa Michniewicz and Jim Rahner.

“No social distancing at all,” Rahner said. “No masks.”

“It’s huge groups, and it was like running the gauntlet just to get up the street and onto the beach,” Michniewicz.

Naples Councilman Gary Price told us he visited the beaches during the day to get a look for himself. And what he said he saw disappointed him, concerned him and caused him to make a call to the city manager about how to regain control of the beaches in the city.

“We really wanted to make sure that people were safe,” Price said. “And what I saw today is what I believe to be really not safe.”

Price took a picture while checking out the beach, and that’s what prompted him to take action, he said. Price said he saw signs that people were visiting from the east coast of the state since their beaches remain closed.

“I took some pictures of cars that were from Broward and Miami-Dade dealership plates,” Price said. “And so you could tell from the cars.”

Price hopes what he saw Saturday stops now, and neighbors we spoke to hope so too.

“I’m sure they’re tired of being pent up in the house,” Michniewicz said. “But you have to think about this, and people aren’t thinking about this.”

The city also plans to hold an emergency meeting at 1 p.m. Monday to determine a plan for beaches moving forward for beach access, boat launches and the emergency beach closure order.

Price said he hopes to see beaches open back up, but for limited hours on weekends to prevent visitors.

This decision does not affect beaches run by Collier County. Those remain open per county guidelines.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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