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Port St. Lucie boaters rejoice after city lifts boat ramp restrictions

Waterways crowded after last month's closures
Posted at 4:38 PM, Apr 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 22:53:00-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — After weeks of waiting, people living in Port St. Lucie are back out on the water.

The boat ramps re-opened Friday, allowing many to get back in their normal routine.

City leaders closed the ramps last month to minimize large gatherings and help stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

By 10 a.m. Sunday, most of the boat ramp parking lots were full with barely anywhere to park.

Many residents like Connie Clough headed out early to take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy the outdoors.

"I've waited forever, but this is awesome. I love it. Enough is enough. We are ready to get outside and enjoy and see people," Clough said. "Even if we can't be near people or be in groups, at least we can see the world."

For Kim Burnett, Sunday was an opportunity to relieve some stress.

"Unfortunately, I work in hospitality, so that's going to be a difficult situation coming back," Burnett said. "I think that it will be a long road."

She added that it will be at least three to four months before she can return to work. In spite of it all, she's thankful and looking forward to her short cruise on the river.

"It takes your mind off of everything," Burnett said. "You know, you don't worry about it and you're not out spending money or online shopping."

While boaters are out on the water, city leaders said social distancing guidelines are still in place. As a result, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's office and Port St. Lucie police will be out patrolling the waterways and enforcing boating laws to help keep people safe.

The city of Port St. Lucie reminds residents as they charter the waters to practice social distancing.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • Limit the number of people aboard to those family members you share your home with.
  • Keep your distance from other groups.
  • Maintain a safe distance from others when doing things like loading up at the dock or fueling the boat.
  • After doing anything that requires touching an item someone else may have touched, like a fuel pump, disinfect by washing your hands or using a hand sanitizer as soon as possible.

The city wants to remind boaters of executive order No. 20-09, directed by the Florida Fish and Wildfire Conservation Commission. Under the executive order, all recreational boats must be at least 50 feet apart and there can't be more than 10 people on board.