4th of July weekend: Pinellas Co. prepares for busy beaches despite COVID-19 concerns

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s bound to be a busy beach weekend in Pinellas County. Eagle 8 HD flew high above Pinellas beaches on Thursday and found beachgoers were already congregating. Most, we witnessed, were social distancing.

A representative with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told 8 on Your Side that there will be increased patrols on county beaches, but not to the extent that we saw on Mother’s Day Weekend or Memorial Day Weekend. The beach maximum capacity feature on the sheriff’s office website is also not going to be put back into operation this weekend.

In Clearwater, however, there will be a significant law enforcement presence on the beach, according to Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter.

“We have a very large deployment for our key holidays – July Fourth, Memorial Day – the big ones,” said Chief Slaughter. “So there will be a lot of officers out there.”

While the chief believes most locals know the rules and follow them, there will be hundreds of visitors from out of town and out of state who do not.

“There’s people that may not know the rules that need to be educated. There’s people that may be coming to our beach thinking they are going to cause a bit of a disruption, we’ll be mindful of that,” said Chief Slaughter. “We’ll have a really strong police presence to make sure those that are not aware of the rules are well informed.”

Beachgoers we caught up with on Clearwater Beach didn’t seem to be worried about catching the coronavirus. Caden Dalton is vacationing in Clearwater from Ohio.

“I think it’s bad. I think it might be overplayed by the media,” said Dalton. “I think if you stay a decent amount away, 6 feet, you’ll stay safe. “

Caleb Victor just moved here from Seattle and says he has no worries.

“No worries for me. I know I should be, I know we all should be. But it is what it is,” said Victor. “Just trying to make the best of it.”

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