RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — The coronavirus has impacted almost every facet of people's lives. Now, with Palm Beach County beaches set to close over the holiday weekend, it's another blow for many businesses, but some are actually benefiting and have full bookings for the Fourth of July.
Air tanks are being filled and Force-E Scuba Centers in Riviera Beach is rebounding after struggling in April and May.
"It's one of the few things you can do and go have fun," said Skip Commagere, owner of Force-E Scuba Centers.
Snorkelers and divers were in the water Tuesday at Phil Foster Park, but all public and private beaches and beach parks in the county are set to close at 12:01 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
Dive boats have been booking up fast to get locals in the water this weekend, and Commagere has had to turn some customers away.
"We do have people coming in calling us, but we have to often times tell them if they don't call early enough or unless we have a cancellation, 'I'm sorry, but the boats are booked,'" Commagere said.
Jeff Nelson, who also works at Force-E Scuba Centers, agreed.
"We're getting a lot more people coming in and definitely getting ready because lobster miniseason is coming in," Nelson said.
But it's not all good news. Walker's Dive Charters can only fill boats at half capacity because of social distancing requirements, and with coronavirus cases still climbing in Palm Beach County, cancellations from out of town just started coming in Tuesday afternoon because tourists don't want to be stuck in their hotel.
"I had a group of 13 coming in from Tennessee and they opted not to come down," owner Bill Walker said. "All my boats for this weekend had been full. I've been turning business away from Thursday through Monday. I now have space on just about every boat."