PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) – Pinellas County beaches are gearing up for an influx of visitors as Spring Break is quickly approaching.
“We are seeing that March is going to be the best Month since the pandemic started,” President and CEO of Visit St. Pete Clearwater, Steve Hayes said
8 On Your Side spoke with County Administrator Barry Burton and how the county is preparing. He said he doesn’t have any concerns ahead of spring break.
“I think we have been dealing with this for some time and we have had visitors for some time,” Burton said.
There is a mask ordinance in Pinellas County and social distancing signs can be found at popular spots like beach access points. Burton thinks the requirements already in place are enough and doesn’t think more will be added.
“I don’t foresee additional regulation, but I certainly hope people come here recognize it’s a partnership, we are asking you to be safe, but that requires people to be responsible,” Burton added.
Katie Miller is the manager at The Reef Bar and Grill in Madeira Beach. She tells 8 On Your Side that everyone at the restaurant is working to do their part to inform visitors of the local mandates.
“That makes a huge different, educating guests and letting them know why and what we are doing to contain COVID around here,” Miller said.
Starting this Friday, Visit St. Pete Clearwater will deploy Sunshine Steward Street Teams, who will be roaming popular locations throughout the area to surprise visitors who are following COVID-19 safety protocols with $25 gift cards to be spent locally.
Five beaches in Tampa Bay are now ranked among the top 25 in the country, including Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, Siesta Key Beach and Clearwater Beach with St. Pete Beach topping the list.
Last March, at the beginning of the pandemic, spring breakers flocked to beaches in Florida to soak up the sun. Governor Ron DeSantis refused to close beaches despite the spread of COVID-19.