By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – On Sunday, May 24th, in the middle of a rain-soaked Memorial Day Weekend, the City of Delray Beach announced they had rescinded the restrictions for the much anticipated beach reopening following coronavirus closures.
The announcement was made by social media in the afternoon and detailed that starting May 24th: the Delray Beach Pavilion will open daily from 9AM to 6:30 PM. Also beach concessions including chairs, umbrella and cabana services may operate – however all CDC guidelines, including social distancing and sanitation, must be followed.
The statement confirmed that all visitors accessing the beach shall follow CDC guidelines, including limiting gatherings to no more than ten people and maintaining social distancing. Concluding, ‘all previous beach restrictions are rescinded, effective immediately’.
Mayor Shelly Petrolia shared on Tuesday morning, “I was surprised by the announcement. I fully expected restrictions to be lifted this week, however, the City Manager [George Gretsas] made the decision sooner than expected.”
Adding, “I fully support his decision as there was very little likelihood for issues due to the weather, and it allowed for other beach activities such as fishing and surfing to commence.”
On Friday and Saturday, before the weather turned to continuous rain, the beach was full of visitors by most accounts keeping social distancing. The Anchor Park parking lot was open for Delray Beach residents, with an officer patrolling the lot.
On those days the city also had officials walking the beach reminding visitors that at the time it was open for only swimming, walking or jogging. Although a bystander said plenty were sitting with their friends or families on towels, perhaps contemplating those activities.
The Delray Beach Police Department had an officer using a drone to fly over the beach and through the live camera identified and then used a microphone to tell numerous visitors that had brought chairs that they were not allowed.
Starting Sunday all that is in the past, and the only restrictions are State and CDC guidelines. The CDC provides guidance, “Reopening America requires all of us to move forward together by practicing social distancing and other daily habits to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Reopening the country also strongly relies on public health strategies, including increased testing of people for the virus, social distancing, isolation, and keeping track of how someone infected might have infected other people.”
Also the City announced that beginning today, Tuesday, May 26th, the Delray Beach Public Library will re-open to the public, from 9AM to 5PM, Mondays through Fridays.
As of the morning of May 26th, the confirmed cumulative cases are 1,662,768 in the U.S., with more than 98,223 deaths. Florida reports 51,746 coronavirus cases, deaths reach 2,252 deaths. In Palm Beach County, the confirmed cases are 5,355 and deaths are 315.
From 2013 to 2018 the average deaths per year in Palm Beach Country were between 13,500 and 15,000, with the leading causes being heart disease, cancer and strokes.