In order to protect public health, safety, and welfare and maximize compliance with an executive order issued by the state, all public beaches in St. Johns County was forced to close public access under the local state of emergency, effective Sunday and they will remain closed until further notice.
"We have taken as many measures as possible up to this point to preserve our residents' ability to access their beach. Unfortunately, those visiting the beach continue to ignore CDC guidelines regarding crowd size and personal distancing. In order to maintain public safety and respect the State of Florida's Executive Order, we had no choice but to close the coastline to public access today," said Hunter S. Conrad, St. Johns County Administrator. "We will continue to be methodical in our approach to closings related to COVID-19, and like every decision we have made to this point, we will open the beaches at the appropriate time when it is safe to do so."
The determination to close all public beaches is based upon a recommendation to reduce health risks associated with COVID-19 and beach overcrowding by the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, the St. Augustine Beach Police Department, the City of St. Augustine, the City of St. Augustine Beach, St. Johns County Emergency Management and local health officials.
The closure will bring relief to many local residents, especially around Mickler’s Landing, where hundreds of beachgoers crammed the side streets and parking lots on A1A.
The manager of Mickler’s Landing plaza was forced to protect many of the parking spaces in his lot for his tenants on Saturday. The few extra spaces in the lot were rented for $10 each.
“It wasn’t about the money. We wanted to control who comes onto our property,” the manager said. “The county kept the beaches open and closed the parking lots [last Sunday]. They made property owners deal with the mess.”
Cars were parked on the west side of A1A for miles between Mickler’s Landing and Vilano Beach Saturday afternoon, forcing beachgoers to cut between homes and make paths through the dunes to get to the beach.
All boat ramps, parks, green spaces and trails remain open for the public to safely enjoy, the county said. For more information, please call the St. Johns County Emergency Management hotline at (904) 824-5550.