Escambia Co. Commission votes to keep public beaches closed

Local News

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The day before a two-week beach closure was set to end, the Escambia County Commission voted 4-1 to keep the beaches closed until further notice.

Commissioner Doug Underhill was the only commissioner who wanted to re-open the public beaches so locals can enjoy it.

“I do believe it’s time to re-open the beaches to locals,” Underhill said. “The governor’s already made sure the welcome mat to Florida has been already rolled up..If you’re not already here, don’t come. There’s no place for you to stay.”

Underhill said he thinks the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office can police social distancing on the beach while it remains open. He says it’s important to get people back to work along the beaches.

“We have the ability to put simple measures in place that allow citizens to use the beaches that belong to them,” he said. “Simple measures in place that will allow some of our Escambia citizens to go back to work.”

Dozens of submitted comments were read at Thursday night’s meeting. There were mixed comments both for and against re-opening the beaches.

There was a large number of local surfers who spoke out saying there should be an exception to allow them in the water.

“We specifically requested that the beaches remain closed, but an exception should be made for surfers,” Local Surfer Nolan Hasting said. “Surfing is an isolated sport with the majority of us looking to find breaks without other surfers.”

The commission will continue to look daily at public health data and, if needed, they will call an emergency meeting to re-open beaches or make the decision at the next regular board of commissioners meeting.

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