Huge turnout at Gulf Shores: Police ridealong shows how they are enforcing social distancing guidelines

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GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — After 43 days of the beaches in Gulf Shores being closed, they are officially opened! Many people couldn’t wait to go out to the beach and enjoy the water and sunshine.

By noon the parking lots were packed with a big turnout in Gulf Shores. This raises concerns about if people are following social distancing guidelines.

News 5 Colleen Peterson rode along with the Gulf Shores Police Department to see what they are doing to help enforce social distancing orders.

She also spoke with Melvin Shepard, Betallion Chief of the Gulf Shores Fire Department, to see what they are doing to help enforce these guidelines.

“We are happy to see people back in town, but at the same time you know we are asking people to practice social distancing orders,” Shepard said, “Keeping their group sizes to less than 10, staying 6 feet away from nonfamily members and to just continue to wash your hands.” 

They have a full staff monitoring the beaches and will take action if the guidelines are breached.

“If we see large groups the lifeguards will approach them and explain to them the social distancing guidelines that were set forth by the governor of Alabama,” Shepard said.

If the guidelines still aren’t being followed after a fair warning then the Gulf Shores Police Department will step in and enforce the orders in place.

“If it just continues then we have to contact the Gulf Shores Police Department,” Shepard said.

He explained that they haven’t had many issues yet as people are following the rules in place. Some questioned if it is too soon to reopen the beaches.

“I think as long as we maintain their distance and do the proper Hygiene then we are safe with that,” a beach-goer explained.

Many are excited to be able to social distance at the beach. Although, the staff are following the same orders as well.

“We are not able to transport people in our vehicles on and off the beach.” 

If there is an emergency then that is a different story.

“In an emergency yes we are going to do everything we normally would the only difference would be if a lifeguard pulled someone out of the water that was unconscience, once we get them back to the beach that lifeguard won’t have any more hands on contact. We have paramedics on staff at would then step in with proper PPE, gloves, masks. Whatever we would need to treat that patient.” 

If you are heading out to the beach make sure to take extra precautions as we all get through this pandemic together.

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