Public Health

All Florida State Parks to Close

Limiting hours and reducing visitor capacity have not resulted in the reductions needed to protect public health, park leadership said.

By Megan McDonald March 23, 2020

Myakka River State Park

All of Florida's state parks will close to the public effective today, March 23.

In a notice on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website, the organization announced the closing, an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, writing:

At the direction of Governor DeSantis and to successfully uphold CDC guidance to maximize social distancing and avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, DEP will close all Florida State Parks to the public effective Monday, March 23. 

DEP has taken many measures to continue providing resource recreation at our state parks during this time, such as limiting operating hours and reducing visitor capacity at parks with high visitation. Unfortunately, this has not resulted in the reductions needed to best protect public health and safety as Florida continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work to prioritize the welfare of our communities and staff. We look forward to welcoming you again to our award winning state parks as soon as possible. 

In addition to the notice to close parks, the governor's office has also directed bars, nightclubs and fitness centers to close; limited restaurants to takeout and delivery service; and banned elective medical procedures. Sarasota and Manatee County have both closed beaches to the public, and both counties have also declared states of emergencies. 

On Sunday, Florida recorded 1,007 cases of COVID-19. There are currently 13 confirmed cases in Manatee and 17 confirmed cases in Sarasota.

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