REDINGTON BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – Pinellas County Commissioners have a tough decision ahead of them – when will the beaches and pools reopen?
Some say they should reopen this week but others say it’s still too soon.
Right now, yellow tape remains at the entrance of Redington Beach. It, along with all public beaches in Pinellas County, has been closed more than a month to slow the spread of COVID-19. While some say they should stay closed, 8 On Your Side spoke with a beachside business who is hungry for them to reopen.
Milkshakes, ice cream and fudge are some of the homemade treats at the beachside business Candy Kitchen on Redington Beach and Madiera Beach.
“We have many people who come in and say we’re so glad you’re open we needed this!” owners Brand and Laura Holybee said.
They’ve owned the sweet shop 24 years but say lately, business has been bitter.
“With all the restaurants closed, there’s just no one on the beaches,” said Brad Holybee. “We’re doing enough right now to pay the bills and keep the doors open.”
But he went on to say their profit margin is way down.
Pinellas County commissioners on Tuesday morning are set to discuss a resolution that could reopen beaches and pools.
The Holybees are hopeful they vote yes, but not everyone feels the same.
8 On Your Side took a digital poll asking if you think beaches should reopen yet. Less than 30% of you voted yes.
“When I took my oath of office, they didn’t give me a book saying ‘here’s your pandemic guideline, this is what you’re supposed to do,'” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Mayor Kriseman said he will spend the coming days having one-on-one meetings with city leaders trying to figure out how and when to best reopen.
The mayor listed four guidelines that he believes the city should follow before opening.
First, he said it’s important the percentage of positive tests doesn’t increase for 14 days. Second, he said it’s important that hospital capacity in the city is not overwhelmed. Thirdly, he said they have to make sure they have the availability of testing everyone with symptoms with the ability to get results quickly. Fourth and finally, he said the city must have the ability to contact those who have tested positive and trace the spread.
Meanwhile, the Pinellas County Sheriff, who opposed reopening beaches a week ago, now supports the move. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri wrote on Facebook, “It is my trust in Pinellas County residents and belief in the available data that makes me confident.”
8 On Your Side also reached out to County Administrator Barry Burton and to all seven commissioners ahead of Tuesday’s decision. So far, none have responded with how they might vote.
“Until they get these beaches back open and people start coming back, I think it’s going to be more of the same,” said Brad Holybee.
They say open beaches could mean more cash flow for their candy business and the entire economy.
Commissioners will decide Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. if the beaches will re-open. Stay with WFLA for the latest.