MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The Martin County Sheriff's Office is preparing for an unprecedented Memorial Day weekend.
The unofficial start of summer comes with added safety challenges as people want to get out of the house and celebrate in the mix of COVID-19 related rules and restrictions.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up staffing and spreading out resources to make sure celebrations do not get out of hand in areas like beaches, sandbars, and restaurants.
Thursday night, Sailor’s Return in Martin County got an early glimpse into the demand for the holiday weekend, welcoming a busy, but socially distant dinner crowd.
They are still rebounding from weeks of being closed.
“It is tough. I’ve been running the restaurant 11 years, so it’s tough to turn people away,” said General Manager Michael Lamattina.
Because of capacity limits, Lamattina knows they will take a financial hit for the otherwise profitable weekend. They’ve removed at least 20 tables to meet capacity limits.
“We’re doing everything in our power to keep it safe,” Lamattina said.
If they did not, he knows the risk. Law enforcement has already made random stops at the restaurant.
“We’ve had ATF come in and inspect us. We’ve had the health department come in. We’ve had police come in 4 times and inspect us. We passed every time,” Lamattina said.
Sheriff William Snyder says Memorial Day is a busy weekend for law enforcement any year, but the COVID-19 pandemic will make for more challenges.
“The restaurant owners, they know the law, they know the regulations, they know the rules,” Snyder said.
His deputies will also be keeping a close eye on beaches and sandbars.
"We’re going to see a huge influx of people on the beaches and the sandbars. We will have to triage like we usually do,” Snyder said.
Sandbars are closed to the south, so he anticipates busy waterways in Martin County. Six boats from Martin County, Stuart Police, and Jupiter will be on the water.
25 extra deputies will be on beaches.
“On top of the sandbars, on top of the beaches, on top of restaurants, on top of all of our calls for service, we will also have DUI patrols because Memorial Day is, unfortunately, one of our drinking holidays,” Snyder said.
He is urging people to follow the rules on their own so law enforcement does not have to step in.
“Our goal is that people enjoy the holiday, but remember what Memorial Day is. It’s a day that recognizes the sacrifice of thousands of Americans who gave their lives. What a terrible day to break the law and cause law enforcement to have to come into your life,” Snyder said.