MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — While beaches all across Florida have shut down, Mexico Beach was one to remain open.
With opinions on both sides of the argument, one thing remained at the forefront of discussion, and that was safety.
For the past several days, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office has been monitoring the beaches of Mexico Beach to make sure people are practicing social distancing.
But that was not enough of a safety precaution for some, leading City Council to vote to close the beach in the end.
“We put some practices in place last Friday morning about banning public parking. We thought that we did a good job and evidently there was some, obviously a consensus, three to two vote, in favor of closing the beach, so that’s what we’re gonna do,” said Mayor of Mexico Beach, Al Cathey.
After a heated discussion between City Commissioners as well as the Mayor, there was a clear difference of opinion between some.
“For those that want to use the beach, I thought it was worth standing up for that because I think that once we proved we could control the crowds and we’re willing to continue to do so, at least our own beach. That we could salvage that, but that wasn’t the case,” said Mayor Cathey.
“We have quite a few citizens here with health problems, family members, myself included, I like the beach but I cannot see having it be open and jeopardizing one single citizen in this community,” said City Councilman, Bobby Pollock.
“But for us to close the beach to residents especially, I just don’t think that’s fair,” said City Councilman, Jerry Smith.
As for the 3 1/2 mile stretch of white sands, the city will be putting up more signage about the closure and shutting down beach access points.
The beach closure will go into effect Tuesday night, March 31st at midnight and will be effective for at least two weeks. In two weeks, Mexico Beach will meet again to discuss opening the beaches back to the public or continuing the closure for a longer period of time.