Sanibel to discuss permanent alcohol ban on beach

Reporter: Taylor Petras Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Sanibel Island beach. Credit: WINK News.

The City of Sanibel is considering a permanent alcohol ban on its beach due to the pandemic after it put a temporary ban in place over the summer.

Acting Mayor Mick Denham told us Sanibel learned a lot from the COVID-19 restrictions in place for the summer. He said the goal is not to keep tourists away from their beaches with the new possible rule, but some tourists we met didn’t quite see it that way.

Faith Purkiser’s family has been visiting Southwest Florida from Indiana for years. She, like many others, enjoys a cold beer on the beach.

“As a visitor, that’s something you look forward to is coming down, you know, spending an afternoon on the beach and maybe having a beer,” Purkiser said.

The next time Purkiser visits the island beaches, she might have to leave the booze behind.

“Because we’re the only area that does not have a restriction on drinking alcohol on the beach, it attracts everybody,” Denham said.

In June, city council voted to temporarily ban alcohol at beaches to keep crowds and coronavirus numbers down. The acting mayor told us the permanent alcohol ban is to keep their beaches clean and quiet.

“We have had experiences, 20 or 30 people gathering on a beach, setting up a bar with tables, with beer kegs and whiskey bars on tables on the beach, causing, tracking a lot of people, noise, music,” Denham explained.

However, the acting mayor told us, if someone staying at a hotel wanders down to the beach with a glass of wine, the city is not going to track them down.

“I can see if it’s a drunken party, but if it’s a couple that wants to have a glass of wine or watch the sunset, I guess I think that’s kind of wrong,” said Jodie Hufford, who lives in Bradenton.

City council meets to debate the booze ban Tuesday .

“It wouldn’t ruin the whole vacation, but it would change my choices as to where we go, so and where we spend our money ultimately,” Purkiser said.

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