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Coronavirus: Boaters get stern warning from Pinellas officials for not following orders


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A stern warning was given to anyone planning to go boating this weekend to follow the rules. Thursday at the Pinellas County Commissioners meeting, Commissioners say boaters have to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, or they’ll be forced to discuss shutting down marinas.

The Pinellas Sheriff’s Office released a video Thursday from what the waterways looked like last weekend. According to CDC guidelines, all boats are supposed to be 50 feet apart with no more than 10 people on board. Many broke the rules last weekend.

“Saturday was pretty ugly to tell you the truth,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “It shows the amount of people, the amount of boats and they weren’t properly distanced. That’s at Three Rooker Island, the Spoil Islands, Shell Key, throughout the waterways.”

The worst of all was near the Gandy Bridge.

“It was a disaster,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “There were beer cans everywhere. People partying. Not adhering to any of this. They were all over each other, it was a mess out there.”

“Quite honestly people ruined it for themselves,” he continued. “I personally went out Sunday and shut it down. And it’s going to stay shut down.”

The sheriff’s office has the power to fine anyone not adhering to COVID-19 orders.

“Help us help you,” Sheriff Gualtieri said. “But if you don’t and you’re going to force us, we’re going to take action.”

County Commissioners said this coming weekend is the final chance all boaters have to get it right.

Under the governor’s new stay-at-home order, recreational boating is allowed. However, if people don’t follow the COVID-19 guidelines, commissioners can enforce more strict orders.


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