Residents of Florida town express concerns over closing of public beach

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Margaret Topper, a long-time Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida resident, texted about not being able to get daily exercise and fresh air because of the closure of the town’s public beach.

“I understand they are regulated by the state government to follow procedures but maybe there could be a walking/no congregating clause,” she wrote. “It’s important that people get outdoors and exercise for physical and mental health reasons. I think the 6 feet and no congregating idea should be in use everywhere.”

Signs were put along the Inlet explaining the closings due to COVID-19. Photo by Gia Mariano

Chris Ayerle, who has a background in behavioral health, texted that she thought it was a bad idea to close the beaches because it would impact mental health. “Being out in the open ocean air is healthy,” Ayerle said. “I was shocked and saddened to see this.” 

JIC Mayor Dan Comerford understands the concerns about daily exercise and the well being of residents. He, too, is disappointed the beach is closed. 

“It’s open air and very easy to social distance yourself on our beach,” he said over the phone. “However, we have very safe roads with very little traffic. If they close all the public beaches but not ours, we would get a mass influx of people coming to our beach.”

He recommended people walk on the streets and maintain social distancing.

Signs were up all along Jupiter Inlet Colony’s public beach. Photo by Gia Mariano

 “We, because of the relationship that we have with our residents, will not typically be arresting residents for going on the beach,” said Mayor Comerford. “The Governor did not give the power to arrest because of social distancing. The jails are run by the sheriffs, and the sheriffs don’t want any more people in the jails.” 

Even though the mayor said residents won’t be arrested, he still has plans to enforce the new rules. “We will enforce these rules by voluntary compliance and by reasoning with our people, who generally are compliant, law-abiding, and well educated,” said Mayor Comerford. 

“I personally have continued to walk the beach with my dogs,” texted Martha Brox, a JIC resident.  “I go early in the morning and at night before bed. The beach at these times is low traffic. I hope to continue this pattern as of now and should officers order me off I will comply.”

People ditched the beaches and gathered on their boats. Photo by Gia Mariano

To find more information on COVID-19 and steps to help stop the spread visit here. To get updates on the status of Palm Beach County parks visit here