GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft has announced plans to close all of the city’s public beaches starting Friday morning.
“In an abundance of caution, we’re taking dramatic steps,” said Craft.
The mayor made the announcement amid growing concerns over coronavirus, and deciding it was too dangerous to keep them open. This also comes as spring break season ramps up.
“I’d rather have two weeks loss and have made a mistake and overreacted then let it go and find out we should have reacted. We’re making a major step forward for protection,” said Craft.
“There’s a huge number of spring breakers out here. They’re using the bathrooms and stuff like that. It makes a hardship on the workers who are having to clean everything,” said Janece Allgood, who lives in Gulf Shores 6 months out of the year.
The mayor and city council declared a local state of emergency in the city Wednesday.
Many students and families have been in Gulf Shores from around the country, and the mayor says they were just not able to control them.
“They would not stay put. We tried to reduce the number of large groups from getting together, that didn’t work. We tried to encourage social distancing to stay 6 feet apart, that didn’t work,” he said.
We spoke with visitors from Iowa and Missouri Thursday after the announcement was made. While they say they’re disappointed, they think it is best.
“Honestly, now I think it’s a good idea,” said one student visiting from Iowa.
“I think it’s probably in everybody’s best interest because like this whole coronavirus thing is spreading. And a beach is like a really popular place for people and like you know they said like you can’t be in groups bigger than 10 people. Well, there’s obviously way more than 10 people on the beach right now,” said Gabby Bruggemann, who is visiting from Missouri.
They are now trying to figure out what to do with the remainder of their vacation.
“We’re leaving on Saturday because really there’s only one day we won’t be able to go to the beach. But like what is going to be open for us to do? That’s the thing,” said Bruggemann.
The city hopes this is just a short, temporary change.
“We’re hoping in two weeks we can get a better understanding of what’s coming on,” said Craft.
The plan, for right now, is to reopen the public beaches on April 6.
The public beach in Gulf Shores is city property. All beaches behind condos and beach houses are considered private.
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