Boat rentals popular option in SWFL for July 4 weekend

As coronavirus cases rise in Florida, many community members are looking for socially-distant options to celebrate the Fourth of July. We talked spoke to beachgoers about what they are going to do with Collier County beaches restricted.

One of the options people are taking advantage of is boating. Thursday, marinas said they are seeing a major benefit, as more people are booking rentals for the holiday weekend.

“We came down here thinking that we would have great Fourth of July plans and great fireworks,” said Kiley Gosselin in Bonita Springs.

With beach restrictions and fireworks shows canceled, it has some people changing their plans.

“Normally, I go to the Hard Rock Stadium, and I watch the firework show,” Gosselin said. “But I don’t know what to do this year.”

And it has boat rental businesses booming with customers.

“We are fully booked starting Friday through Monday, no boats available,” said Omar Botana, with Bay Water Boat Club and Rentals.

Botana says visitors are still coming down to spend the Fourth in Florida.

“Probably 60 percent of them are from out of state,” Botana said.

And Botana says being on the water is a great way to still celebrate will practicing social distancing.

“Face it, if you have a family and you want to throw an anchor out there in the middle of the bay and have lunch, it’s great,” Botana said. “No one is around, only like a pelican.”

And others agree it’s a safe way to celebrate, as long as the rules are being followed.

“If you stay in your family groups, that’s OK,”: said Ruth Broadwell, who is visiting from Minnestoa.

As many follow the guidelines out on the water this holiday weekend, it’s important to not forget about boating safety, including not operating a boat under the influence and being mindful of the weather that could come your way.

And Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday how people celebrate the holiday will be critical.

“If we do everything we should over the holiday weekend, we practice social distancing and be mindful of the most vulnerable, we would make progress,” DeSantis said publicly.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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