Public Information Officer
Opening of County Beaches
Nassau County, Florida, April 23, 2020- The Board of County Commissioners held a Special Meeting yesterday which included a discussion related to the beaches in the unincorporated area (Peters Point south to the State Park).
During the meeting, each member of the Board expressed a desire to have the beach opened as soon as possible to provide residents with additional outdoor space to enjoy and to stimulate the local economy. Many individuals have suggested that the beach just be opened to County residents. However, legal counsel has advised that the Board cannot legally open the beach to some and not others. As a tourist destination, opening the beach will increase tourists to the area and there are still concerns about individuals coming here from areas where COVID-19 is widespread.
After some discussion, the Board determined that they will re-open portions of County beaches beginning Wednesday, May 6, 2020, from 6am-noon to allow for activities such as walking, running, exercising and fishing. No stationary activities such as sunbathing and sitting will be allowed at this time.
The May 6th date was selected to coordinate with the State (Ft. Clinch and south Amelia Island) and the City of Fernandina Beach as to their opening. The County will coordinate with both and install signage with the rules that have been implemented and coordinate deputies needed to monitor activities on the beach.
Additionally, the City of Fernandina Beach has been unable to begin lifeguard training due to social distancing requirements. They have indicated that they can begin training right away and are optimistic that the training will be completed by May 4th. (The City provides lifeguards for County beaches through an interlocal agreement that is in place)
The Board indicated that they would like to see all beaches on the island open simultaneously. Should the City of Fernandina or the State open their beaches prior to May 6th, the Board will consider opening their beaches sooner as well. It’s important to note that should beaches open prior to the lifeguard training being finished, water activities such as swimming and surfing will not be permitted immediately.
The Board realizes that many residents were hoping for a full opening of beaches right away, however they believe that a systematic opening is important to ensure we don’t have a surge of visitors and that social distancing is maintained until COVID-19 cases begin to decline. They trust that having a date set will give residents confidence that things will return to normal soon.