SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Concerns over the global coronavirus pandemic and warnings from officials to practice social distancing are not stopping people from visiting one of the top beaches in the country.
Despite Sarasota County beaches being scheduled to close at 6 a.m. on Saturday in an effort to slow the virus’ spread, helicopter video showed Siesta Key Beach filled with people Friday afternoon.
“People are just packed in here. This is not what they mean by social distancing,” WFLA reporter Paul Lamison said during a Facebook live stream. “Even though people are setting their towels a little bit away from each other, everyone is right up on each other.”
One of the many things that draw people to Siesta Key is the public parking lot. The lot on Friday afternoon was so full that cars were circling around trying to find openings.
“It’s spring break in full force,” Lamison said. “Nobody’s heeding the warnings of coronavirus. You wouldn’t even know COVID-19 is an issue here if you looked at this beach.”
Video of another popular beach in the Tampa Bay area went viral earlier this week for a similar reason. It showed a packed house at Clearwater Beach, which led to plenty of online criticism.
Clearwater and other Pinellas County beaches, along with most of the beaches in the Tampa Bay area, have since decided to close. You can find a full list of beach closures here.