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Naples votes to reopen beaches but with restrictions

Posted at 11:27 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 10:11:11-04

NAPLES, FL. — The City of Naples held an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss reopening city beaches.

After 6 hours of public comment and deliberations, Naples City Council voted to reopen city beaches, but with modifications.

The city shut down beaches on Sunday after noticing crowds not following social distancing guideline, and people coming from out of town.

“Quite frankly, it was just unruly, and it was very difficult for our community to handle. I mean, it wasn’t just on the beaches, but it was in the overflow, the parking, commercial areas, residential areas,” said Mayor Teresa Heitmann of the City of Naples.

On Monday, about two dozen people gathered outside city hall to comment on the beach re-closures, and another hundred submitted comments beforehand.

“It’s a tough situation, and I don’t envy their task, but I do think there should be some sort of compromise that can work for the benefit of everybody because I do think fresh air and sun is beneficiary for everybody,” said Mark Riley of Naples.

While Naples beaches will reopen Wednesday at 7 in the morning — there are restrictions.

City Council agreed to keep beaches open Monday through Friday from sunrise to sunset.

On weekends, city beaches will open from 7 am to 11 am and reopen from 5 pm to sunset.

Walking, running, swimming, fishing, and paddle boarding are allowed all week.

However, chairs and umbrellas are only allowed on weekdays, and on weekends only chairs are permitted after 5 pm.

Tents and coolers are prohibited.

Parking restrictions include only allowing cars with City of Naples and Collier County beach parking stickers.

Parking stickers that expired after January 2020 will still be valid.

There will be no hourly meter beach parking and no parking on residential streets, unless in properly marked parking areas.

Parking fines will be double from $100 to $200, and illegally parked vehicles will be towed.

Memorial Day weekend will follow weekend restrictions, including Monday.

“Everybody wants to get out, and they want to go to the beaches and parks, and if you’re on the opposite side of Florida, it is easy to come over here. I mean we go over and visit their beaches, they come over and visit our beaches, but during an emergency like this, jeopardizing the health and safety is just something we have to protect,” said Heitmann.

The City of Naples will re-evaluate these restrictions on June 3, during a regularly scheduled meeting.

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