Sanibel temporarily bans alcohol on city-owned beaches

Reporter: Taylor Petras
Published: Updated:

Drinking with friends on Sanibel beaches may be a thing of the past – at least temporarily.

Starting this weekend, you will not be permitted to drink alcohol on any city-owned Sanibel beach.

The city said it’s to promote social distancing and safe behavior. Some beachgoers said they have mixed feelings about the new rule.

“Anyone who goes to the beach wants to have one or two drinks, who doesn’t,” said Linda Steele of Fort Myers.

Sanibel Police Chief William Dalton said the temporary ban on alcohol at the beach is to keep the island’s COVID-19 numbers low.

“We’ve worked for the last two and a half months to do that. We’ve seen when other destination areas open up, they’ve had big crowds,” he said.

People on Bowman’s Beach are divided on the new rule.

“The more you drink, the more relaxed you get and the less you pay attention to rules,” Steele said.

“It isn’t going to draw crowds of 50 people or more just because they can drink on the beach,” said Pam Willingham of Chicago.

However, some see the logic behind keeping alcohol out of the equation so they can stay on the sand without spreading the virus.

“Once you get 10, you get 20, you get 30. Everyone starts hollering around this crowd. They say, ‘Oh that looks fun over there.’ That’s why we need to keep these social distancing guidelines or else it’s going to keep spreading,” said Vincent Easler of Cape Coral.

The ban on alcohol on Sanibel-operated beaches runs until Labor Day. Dalton said his officers will first make sure everyone understands the rule before handing out citations.

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