City of Naples reopened its public beaches this past week, imposing a series of restrictions after people failed to social distance last weekend.
During the weekend, the changes mean the beach is only open for certain hours in the morning and then from 5 p.m. until sunset, with new restrictions.
We saw a lot of people out at the beach near Naples Pier Saturday with their chairs after 5 p.m. It’s is the only time chairs are allowed during the weekend. Umbrellas, tents and coolers remain prohibited.
And, once the sun sets, beachgoers must leave, per city guidelines.
Even before the beach opened back up during the evening, we already saw people out enjoying the sand during the weekend restricted hours. We also saw law enforcement patrolling the area, asking those beachgoers to leave.
The weekend hours are the same for Collier County beaches, but there are no restrictions on what you can bring when the beaches are open.
Some people are still fighting for full access, while others think the restrictions were a good idea to keep everyone safe.
Roger and Rosie Bader picked a spot far away from other beachgoers, but they are happy to still have the ability to enjoy the view from the beach in Naples ahead of sunset.
“We just enjoy coming here to the beach and seeing the beautiful sunset,” Roger said.
Several other people jumped at the opportunity to enjoy the beach for the sunset too, bringing chairs during the only hours permitted on weekends.
“It’s really nice. It’s not crowded,” Geisha Rivera said. “People are keeping their distance. It’s nice. It’s something.”
For some Miami visitors, the new hours came as a shock and disappointment.
“For us, it was like such a surprise because the time is a little difficult for us,” Nuri Reyes said.
Others think the restrictions are what’s necessary to keep people safe.
“We were down during the week, and people were spaced really good,” Gail Svensson said. “And I think we need some constraints until we find out everyone’s going to obey the rules.”
And some still think the restrictions are too tough.
“I think it’s a little overboard,” Gordon Caie said. “And I think there’s certain avenues that shouldn’t have been crossed.”
Beachgoers will want to watch out for parking. There is no hourly, metered beach parking. Only City of Naples and Collier County beach parking permits are allowed.
Anyone who illegally parks could receive a $200 fine.
The beaches will be back open Sunday morning from 7 to 11 a.m. for exercise only and then back open again from 5 p.m. until sunset.
Until the beaches completely reopen, beachgoers such as Reyes and her family are trying to stay positive and enjoy any time they are able to walk along the shore.
“For now, we’ll take whatever we can,” Reyes said. “It’s just for now. It’s not going to be forever.”