Fort Myers Beach, businesses prepare for possible end of safer-at-home order

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
An almost desolate strip on Fort Myers Beach is normally busy with traffic. But restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic in Florida have caused a noticeable lack of activity. Credit: WINK News.

If the current safer-at-home order in the state is allowed to expire next week, that means businesses and places that were previously shut down would be allowed to reopen. Some businesses we talked to are preparing to get back to work starting May 1, while others feel like another order from the governor could delay that.

Nearly 80% of the employees of a Captiva hotel are back on payroll Thursday.

“We all decided as a community benefit to voluntarily not take any new reservations until we got to May 1,” said Tony Lapi, the president and chairman of the board for Sanibel Captive Beach Resorts.

And with that date coming next week, the hotel is once again taking new reservations.

“We have enough space at our particular properties,” Lapi said. “For instance, our pool, if we keep the lounge chairs six feet apart for a while, it’s not a problem.”

Lapi says they’re still adapting to the new normal, so he and his team are discussing new safety strategies.

“You know, maybe after a room checks out to wait 48 hours, so we can deep clean it,” Lapi said.

On Fort Myers Beach, the town council is meeting Monday to discuss ways of possibly getting locals back on the beach.

“A partial reopening of the town beach to its own residents for a very limited time in the morning,” Mayor Ray Murphy said.

A local task force made up of hotels, restaurants and other retail businesses is discussing new safety guidelines, ones they would all adopt in order to safely reopen.

“Once we have buy-in from everybody about these new standards that are going to be put forward,” Murphy said. “Once the town council agrees to this work product that’s brought forward from the task force, by then, we’ll put it into effect and start moving ahead with it.”

Although there’s optimism, local leaders are prioritizing health and safety above all else.

“I just hope to God that we’re doing the right things,” Murphy said.

A local restaurant told us it’s waiting until there is a green light from the governor’s office.

The town council will discuss the future of Fort Myers Beach during its next scheduled meeting via Zoom 9 a.m. Monday.

MORE: Click here to see details about how to join the town meeting and provide comment.

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