On Friday, March 20th, the Destin City Council hosted a special meeting to discuss the City’s preparations, policies, procedures and action plan regarding COVID-19.
Following another briefing from Dr. Chapman, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County, the biggest topic of discussion was whether or not to close the public beaches within the city of Destin.
After hearing from the public and a motion from Councilman Chatham Morgan, the city unanimously voted to close all beaches in Destin. This includes all private beaches which accounts for roughly 90% of the beaches in Destin.
“I would move that the city of Destin close all beaches, not just our public beach accesses.”Councilman Chatham Morgan
Initially, private beach owners were going to be asked to voluntarily comply. However, it was ultimately decided that private beaches would be included in the resolution and the city would deal with any litigation that comes their way as they attempt to enforce the closing.
“Requesting people to do the right thing, we are past that point”, said Councilman Parker Destin. “We have seen it in our restaurants and still have an onslaught of not-prudent tourists who are coming here. We need to take a strong stance and say that the beaches are closed. It’s miserable to have to take these positions, but I know in my heart that leaving private beaches open or closed to the voluntary whims of the private land owners is going to guarantee that many of them will continue to invite guests, and that is not inline with public safety.”
The following properties and facilities are closed, effective March 21, 2020, through April 30, 2020:
- All public and private beaches (this includes Norriego Point)
- All public and private beach accessways and trails
- Parking areas solely for accessing beaches; and
- City beachfront parks.
Private beach owners are encouraged to comply with the city’s resolution.
Effective March 23, 2020, the lobbies of City Hall/Customer Service (utility billing), the Public Works Complex, and City Hall Annex are closed to the public. However, municipal services provided at these facilities remains available to the public via phone and online.
Further, limited in person meetings are available at the discretion of City staff but such meetings shall be by appointment only. These closures may be lifted at the discretion of the City Manager or his designee.
Additionally, Councilman Parker Destin made a motion to draft a letter to all grocery stores and pharmacies within the city limits to provide special hours for the elderly.
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