MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Many Martin County public beaches reopened on Monday morning after being closed for more than a month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
County commissioners voted on Friday to reopen most beach access points, allowing beach goers to sit and sunbathe and bring items like chairs, umbrellas, coolers, and tents onto the sand.
Social distancing guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must still be followed, however.
Most Martin County public beach access points are open with a few exceptions.
Hobe Sound Beach will remain closed because of how close it is to Palm Beach County, where beaches remain closed.
County leaders said when Palm Beach County first closed its beaches more than a month ago, the Hobe Sound Beach parking lot was packed with people. Bathtub Beach will also remain closed because of ongoing erosion issues.
Frances Newell of Martin County arrived at Stuart Beach early Monday morning and was eager to jump in the water.
"I finally felt human and alive again," Newell said. "I’m a Floridian and ocean nut, so that’s what I live here for. So yeah, I love the ocean and I’m so grateful to be back out here."
Newell said she thinks people will be responsible as they venture out to the beach and practice social distancing.
"Everybody’s being very courteous and people are going to be careful because no one wants to get sick there’s no time for that. I don’t have time to get sick, nobody wants to get sick. Sso I think we’re all being as careful as we can. But I think the beaches are essential because you need the fresh air and exercise," Newell said.
Charlie Lebrun was also anxious to get back in the water.
"It’s wonderful. The waves are what you call green flag. The sun is shining, the sky is clear blue, the water is warm. It will be a pleasure to swim in it. I haven’t swam in it in 43 days," said Lebrun.
Martin County leaders will reevaluate how the initial phase of their reopening plan is going at their next meeting on Friday, May 8.
The county also lifted restrictions at public parks, golf courses, and boat ramps. Playgrounds remain closed. As part of Gov. Ron DeSantis' reopening plan, Martin County restaurants and retail stores can also open at 25 percent capacity.
Beaches in Indian River and St. Lucie counties are back open, however items like beach chairs and umbrellas are not allowed.
For the latest information about Martin County's response to the coronavirus pandemic, click here.