At their Special Meeting on Thursday, March 19, Town Council voted 4-1 to close all public beaches and beach accesses in Fort Myers Beach as of 6pm Thursday. To clarify what that means, Mayor Anita Cereceda explained, “It means zero access. No walking, no nothing on the beach. Everyone should stay off the beach. Period.”
Cereceda opened the meeting explaining that she has been in communication with representatives of all other Lee County municipalities, county, state and federal leaders and they ask that all speak with one voice. “The beachfront is closed. Closed to recreation use, commercial use and personal enjoyment.”
She described people congregating on the beach in spite of recent guidelines to avoid groups of more than 10 and being any closer than 6 feet to others, concluding that since the problem continues, municipalities and the county have been forced to step up regulations under their Emergency Declarations.
“Fort Myers Beach has always been the most inclusive community, welcoming everyone and we must now exclude people. We must protect our community,” Cereceda said. “Spring Break on Fort Myers Beach is over. Go home!”
Council member Rexann Hosafros voted against the proposal, saying, “I think we are exceeding prudent action and trampling on their rights. It’s exceeding what we should be doing.” She explained her vote as being against the total closing of the beach, preventing residents from walking the beach or in some cases, going into their own backyard.
Lee County will place variable message electronic signs at Matanzas Bridge to convey that all Lee County beaches are closed. Barricades will be placed at all FMB beach access points.
The council rejected, for now, enacting a curfew or requiring Hurricane Re-entry passes to access the island.
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