County and municipal officials announced March 19 that the beaches of Anna Maria Island will close Friday, March 20, at 6 a.m.
Beach closure signs and barricades will alert drivers to the closure.
“Each day as our local situation has changed and new advisories have been sent, Manatee County residents have heeded warnings and taken official advice seriously,” county administrator Cheri Coryea said in a news release issued shortly after 3 p.m. “We’re hoping for more of the same with our beach announcement.”
Manatee County lifeguards will remain on duty at Coquina and Manatee public beaches 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily to ensure the safety of those who disregard the closure, the release stated.
A double red flag — indicating no swimming — will fly from lifeguard stands.
Coryea said the decision to close beaches was made with input from the island mayors and after speaking with Sarasota County officials to coordinate a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is not a step we take lightly to close our beaches, but together with the advice of the public health officials we believe it is a step that’s in the public’s best interest,” Coryea said.
“Our primary concern is the health and safety of our residents and visitors and the people they return home to.”
She said leaders in Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Anna Maria and Longboat Key “brainstormed” the decision and will “manage the impacts in their community.”
County code enforcement officers will assist the island communities in enforcing the beach closure.
More details were to be announced at a news conference at 2 p.m. March 20 at the county administration building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
Manatee County public safety director Jacob Saur made the March 19 announcement with Sarasota County officials at a 3 p.m. news conference at the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center.
Sarasota public beaches will close Saturday, March 21 at 6 a.m.
Also announced March 19, the county-owned Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe and Coquina Beach Cafe will be closed during beach closures.