SWFL residents disappointed with beach regulations, understand necessity

Reporter: Morgan Rynor
Published: Updated:
Fort Myers Beach Pier being boarded up on March 19, 2020 due to coronavirus concerns. (WINK News)

Beach bummed!

Spring breakers were told to get out and go home across Southwest Florida and Thursday night, deputies lined Fort Myers Beach to make sure everyone left when the beach closed.

If anyone steps on the sand now, it could come with a hefty fine.

All but one councilmember voted in favor of it. The one who said no claimed people who actually live on the beach can’t walk in their own backyards.

Jim Howser loves living feet away from the beautiful beaches. He just found out they are closed with nobody even allowed to set foot on the sand.

“They weren’t paying attention,” he said. “I was going to say something, but then I thought they would beat the hell out of me.”

The Town of Fort Myers Beach tried enforcing lighter rules which allowed people on the beach in small groups of less than 10, but it wasn’t working.

People like Kylie Shaffer and Shawn Poindexter have been partying on the beach for a week.

“It was fun. We acted like we weren’t worried about it,” Shaffer said.

The declaration says violation may be punishable by a fine up to $5,000.

Shaffer said she didn’t know that.

They’re disappointed, but county and town officials say there are no more chances: “We need you to go home.”

Collier County also closed its beaches Thursday night. We were there when a park ranger brought a barricade out around sunset at Vanderbilt Beach.

Many people packed the beach before it closed. The beach closures mean no one can walk or sit on the sand—something that beachgoers are a little disappointed about, but understand.

“It’s nice to get out of the house and get fresh air and exercise, but got to get people to stay away from each other and follow the rules. It spreads quickly,” said Steve Bloom.

“We even quarantined ourselves. We expect everyone to do the same,” said Jodi Martin.

Those worried about people parking in downtown Naples to go up to the beach, we noticed barricades going up saying “No Parking” along Third Street South.

Naples and the City of Marco Island also announced their beaches will close as well.

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