Council Eases Beach Restrictions


EDITED April 27, 2020 1:45pm
To correct information regarding dog walking. The original proposed motion distributed to council members allowed dog walking. That motion was not readily available to the media during the meeting.

Town Residents Get 3-Hour Window

A split Fort Myers Beach Town Council voted 3-2 at a Special Meeting on Monday, April 27, to open the beach to residents for a 3-hour period each morning from 7 – 10 am beginning Tuesday, April 28. Town residents, carrying identification proving they are town residents, may walk, run or bike on the beach below the high tide line. No towels, chairs or beach paraphernalia are allowed. Dog walking will be allowed. Mayor Ray Murphy and Council member Bill Veach voted against the beach access change.

Facial masks must be worn and all social distancing rules as specified by the CDC must be followed, including maintaining 6-feet of distance between people and no groups of over 10 people. Residents may access the beach via town-owned beach accesses. Town-owned beach access parking will remain closed.

Other options to ease town COVID-19-related restrictions were discussed and council voted 4-1 (Veach voting Nay) to allow lodging facilities, including vacation rentals to begin taking reservations and occupancy on May 15, unless the governor extends state restrictions.

Other alterations to the Town’s Emergency Declarations were deferred until changes to state and county-related restrictions were known. State restrictions on vacation rentals are due to expire April 30 unless extended. State restrictions closing all restaurants except for carryout and delivery are in effect until May 8.

Lee County Board of County Commissioners have an Emergency Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 28 at 9:30am to discuss the county’s COVID-19 response, including parks and beaches.

The Fort Myers Beach Town Council plans to meet again on Friday, May 1 to consider further alterations to the Town’s Emergency Regulations.

Full coverage of the council meeting will follow.