While the beaches in Pinellas County are gaining a lot of press, County Parks and Preserves have remained open for recreational exercise, with limited amenities, during the duration of the “Safer at Home” County Order . “Under the Governor’s Executive Order and the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners’ Order essential activities include but are not limited to:…Participating in recreational activities (consistent with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, golfing (golf courses may remain open) hunting, or swimming and Recreational boating (boat ramps, marinas, and bait/tackle shops may remain open) and taking care of pets.”
Playgrounds, picnic shelters, and some restroom facilities are closed. Fort Desoto Campground remains open at limited capacity and is not currently accepting new reservations. Restrooms that remain open are being cleaned and disinfected by parks staff following utmost precaution. However, it is important to remember ultimately, we are all in charge of our own health and safety. Please remember to bring a mask and gloves or hand sanitizer for the occasion that you will need it. You can find more information on the precautions Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources (PCR) is taking to keep you safe here.
You may ask, when will we return to “normal”. Unfortunately, this is a rapidly evolving situation and more information is needed to make those decisions. A recent survey by the National Recreation and Parks Association, NRPA, provides the latest data on how park and recreation leaders from across the country are confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey results, show Pinellas County is on par with the nation for what assets are currently open and what are closed. Currently, 84% of the 321 respondents are awaiting guidance from the state or federal government on the opening of pools this summer. Additionally 84% of parks departments are unsure of whether they will offer youth camps this summer. Pinellas County PCR is working closely with health authorities, county administration, and the Board of County Commissioners to develop a plan for reopening.
In closing, you are safest at home. However, with appropriate intent and safety measures, you can still enjoy the green and blue spaces in Pinellas County without risking your or your neighbor’s health. A belated Happy Earth Day!