Labor Day crowds struggle between partying, social distancing

Published: September 7, 2020 5:49 PM EDT
Updated: September 8, 2020 4:48 AM EDT

While the Labor Day crowds don’t compare to what was seen on Independence Day, crowds could still be seen on Fort Myers Beach with not much social distancing.

Some people wore masks but many didn’t.

For many “staycationers,” like Veronica Vega and Cheyanne Griffin, the holiday came at the right time.

“Everybody’s keeping six feet apart, the weather is perfect. It’s time … it’s time to get out there and live a little bit,” Vega said. “So we figured we’d keep it close by, and Fort Myers Beach was best.”

Because the pandemic, for some, is wearing thin. With being stuck at home for work and school, a day at the beach offers relief.

“Because it brings everyone peace, it brings everyone together,” Griffin said.

But will a Labor Day beach blast spark another COVID spike? That’s exactly what happened after people packed the beaches on the Fourth of July.

“I think everybody’s doing a good job,” said Ashley Crawford from Ohio.

But Jason Ingream, co-owner of Mango Rita’s in Fort Myers Beach’s Times Square, worries people are too relaxed.

“People are pretty much over it,” Ingream said.

But one thing’s for sure, he says: Businesses are keeping up precautions, and it’s paying off.

“This weekend’s been better than Fourth of July,” Ingream said. “A lot better.”

Because, he said, it makes customers feel more comfortable celebrating.

“I know that some people are, like, depressed, cooped up in the house,” Vega said. “Just being out here and socializing … I mean, keeping in mind being safe, but overall I think we’re good.”

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are down in Florida but it remains to be seen if they will stay that way after a holiday weekend full of crowded beaches.