Pinellas County Opens Up Parks, Pools, Beaches

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Beginning Monday, June 1, the playgrounds at Pinellas County parks, including Philippe Park in Safety Harbor, will be open.

And beginning today (May 28) the county restrictions of 50 percent capacity on hotel swimming pools are lifted. This would affect the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa. Restrictions at other public pools, including those at condominiums, will be lifted on Monday,

Also beginning today (May 28) county restrictions at the beaches and limited capacity at daycare center playgrounds are lifted.

Pinellas County commissioners voted unanimously at their Thursday meeting to remove these local restrictions and also voted to extend the county’s state-of-emergency status to June 5.

The commissioners acknowledged that while the COVID-19 virus still poses a threat, the curve of infections has been flattened and public has been made aware of the risks.

“We’ve tried to flatten the curve. We’ve tried to put responsible practices in. And we’ve had a significant law enforcement presence,” said Pinellas County Administrator Barry A. Burton, who noted that the Sheriff’s Office and municipal law enforcement has done “a fantastic job” at educating the public.

“We’ve gotten past the Memorial Day weekend and so we believe it’s time to remove our restrictions and go with the governor’s orders,” he said.

Department of Health Director Dr. Ulyee Choe added that the number of positive tests for the COVID-19 virus is declining as is the number of people coming to the emergency room with symptoms.

The plan is for the country to continue to urge people to follow Governor Ron DeSantis’ statewide orders on social distancing as well as recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention such as hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said health advisory signs at the beaches would stay in place. Burton said the county would be putting up similar signs at the county’s playgrounds.

Walt spent 35 years as a reporter, feature writer. TV critic and columnist for The Tampa Tribune. Prior to that he worked in the public relations office at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and as a reporter for The Greenville (SC) News. He and his wife, Debbie, have lived in Safety Harbor for 10 years. He also taught media writing courses at the University of Tampa. Since moving here, he has been active with the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center, hosting a monthly storytelling night.