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New idea to close Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach at night to drivers

Mayor 'concerned about crowds coming downtown too soon'
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Posted at 12:07 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 18:37:35-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Should busy Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach close at night to drivers to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus?

That's the idea Mayor Shelly Petrolia is throwing around on social media.

Petrolia recently asked her Facebook followers if they would support the nightly closure of Atlantic Avenue for roughly eight blocks between S. Swinton Avenue and Federal Highway.

In the April 17 post, Petrolia wrote:

"When we get to a business re-open point, what are your thoughts on nightly closures of Atlantic Ave between Swinton and Federal Hwy, allowing only pedestrian traffic so more social distance space is made available? This would also allow restaurants to place more tables outside, helping with our local recovery.

Thoughts?"

Petrolia's post received more than 160 comments, a mix of people both for and against the idea.

"These guys are in a real hardship situation, and whatever we can do to help is what we need to do," Petrolia told WPTV on Tuesday, referring to restaurants and small business who are suffering because of closures from COVID-19.

WATCH INTERVIEW WITH MAYOR:

Delray Beach mayor talks about possible closure of Atlantic Avenue

At this point, no formal proposal to close Atlantic Avenue has been made for the Delray Beach City Commission to vote upon. It's simply just an idea for thought.

"We are going to be, first and foremost, concerned about crowds coming downtown too soon. So we may end up softly. Like, if you don't have a reservation, you're not able to be down there," Petrolia said.

The mayor added that safety is of utmost importance, and a variety of factors need to be considered before Atlantic Avenue would be closed to drivers.

"How is it going to affect the safety of our town? How does the traffic flow as a result of this? So all those things have to be taken into perspective," Petrolia said.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus | The Rebound | We're Open South Florida

An emergency order is currently in effect in Delray Beach until May 1 which requires "all visitors and residents to wear masks when inside grocery stores, convenience stores, retail establishments, pharmacies, retail food facilities, or restaurants, and while performing construction or delivery activities."

The masks can take any form, as long as they cover your nose and mouth.

In addition, "employees of grocery stores, convenience stores, retail establishments, pharmacies, retail food facilities, and restaurants shall wear a mask at all times while inside the facility, and all establishments will require that customers wear masks while inside."

RELATED: City leaders want Boca Raton beaches to reopen

According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 287 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Delray Beach.

For the latest information about the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic, click here.