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Naples reopens beaches with restrictions after emergency shutdown

Hundreds of people voiced their concerns during the Naples City Council emergency meeting about the city’s public beaches to start the week after the city shut them down over the weekend due to concerns for lack of social distancing.

Naples City Council voted 4-3 in favor of reopening the city’s public beaches Monday during the meeting. New rules were part of the vote to help mitigate the same issues that occurred over the weekend from happening again.

Naples public beaches will reopen Wednesday under new restriction approved by city council.

“We should have been stricter when we made our first policy in closing and reopening the beaches,” Mayor Teresa Heitmann said.

Heitmann and the council spent hours discussing beach restrictions.

“I think it was a tough decision, being the incidents that we had over the weekend,” Heitmann said. “And I think the council really went the extra mile in making sure we had the right policy for our citizens.”

We spoke to locals who shared their thoughts after the new decision on beaches was made in the city.

“I think what we are experiencing is a lot of people from Broward and Dade county,” Vinny Buxo said. “And they are taking advantage of this, and we like it the way it is.”

“So why restrict us?” Benrice Tomaso said. “It wasn’t caused by natives.”

Some people who live in Naples wish last weekend did not escalate the way it did.

“It was shocking to see this many people,” Tomasso said.

“We are lucky we haven’t had a lot of illness around here,” Laura Buxo said.

The new policies include the beaches staying open Monday through Friday from sunrise to sunset, allowing chairs and umbrellas, but no coolers or tents. On the weekends, beaches will open from 7 to 11 a.m. for exercise activities only. Then, it will open back up from 5 p.m. to sunset, allowing people to bring chairs to watch the sunset.

This includes Memorial Day weekend too.

“The plan that they have in place is good,” Vinny said. “Limiting the hours on weekends is when we get the influx on the east coast.”

Some think the restrictions in place are enough, while others think it could be too much.

“I think this is really overdone,” Tomasso said.

Other restrictions include no parking unless you have a city or county sticker and no parking in any residential areas unless marked. Fines will double from $100 to $200.

Discussion will be revisited at the June 3 regular city council meeting.

Regulated visiting hours

Monday – Friday, open sunrise to sunset

  • No coolers and tents (chairs and umbrellas allowed)
  • Walking, running, swimming, fishing, and paddle boarding allowed

Weekends: 7 a.m to 11 a.m.

  • Chairs, tents, umbrellas or coolers prohibited
  • Walking, running, swimming, fishing and paddle boarding allowed

Weekends: 5pm – sunset

  • ONLY chairs allowed. (Tents, umbrellas or coolers prohibited)

Memorial Day weekend (Saturday, May 23rd through Monday, May 25th ):            7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

  • Chairs, tents, umbrellas, or coolers prohibited
  • Walking, running, swimming, fishing, and paddle boarding allowed

5 p.m. to sunset 

  • ONLY chairs allowed. (Tents, umbrellas, or coolers prohibited)

Parking:

  • City of Naples and Collier County beach parking permits ONLY
  • No hourly beach parking (metered parking)
  • No parking on residential streets unless in properly marked parking areas
  • Fines will be doubled from $100 to $200 with no early discount
  • Illegally parked vehicles will be towed

Bathrooms will reopen.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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