Coronavirus concerns have shut down the party for spring breakers in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Now they are affecting Hollywood Beach and its popular Broadwalk, too.
The 2 1/2-mile stretch of beach and pathway are closed to the public until further notice as part of Hollywood’s “proactive measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the city wrote on Facebook Monday afternoon.
Police officers drove up and down the Broadwalk in golf carts Monday afternoon using a blow horn to tell everyone that the city’s signature walking and biking path and the beach were closed.
The ice cream shops, pizza places and other restaurants will remain open for now, according to the city. Those are accessible through side streets and rear entrances, the city said in an afternoon statement.
The closure comes several days after the city declared the novel coronavirus outbreak an emergency. As of Monday, 38 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Broward County, with 23 positive cases in Miami-Dade County.
Hollywood is the latest city to block off access to its beaches in an attempt to limit the spread of the disease in South Florida. On Sunday, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale announced measures that would see stretches of their most popular public beaches shut down indefinitely and “non-essential” businesses shuttered by 10 p.m.
Hollywood spokeswoman Raelin Storey said the closure was made to comply with the CDC’s guidelines to not host events or gatherings involving more than 50 people. As of Monday, the businesses adjacent to the Broadwalk were expected to remain open but that may change as the situation develops, she said.
“These measures are being put in place for the protection of the community, visitors, and employees to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the healthcare system is not overwhelmed,” the city said on Facebook.
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Dan Serafini, the president of the Hollywood Beach Business Association and owner of two restaurants on the beach, said business has already dropped in the last few days. The closing of the beach and Broadwalk will further impact the restaurants and other businesses in the area, he said.
“This is unprecedented,” he said. “We need to get through this together. Public safety has to come first.”
Serafini, who owns GG’s Waterfront and Jimbo’s Sandbar, said he has already implemented all of the CDC’s recommendations, including cutting the amount of tables, adding hand sanitizer stations and sterilizing menus and other products.
He said he wouldn’t surprised if businesses were told to shut down.
As of Monday afternoon, there were no barricades blocking access to the beach or the Broadwalk. The city says it has begun to place signs around the area notifying visitors about the closures.
The city says it will continue to monitor the developments of the novel coronavirus and will be reviewing the closures weekly.
Miami Herald staff writer Carli Teproff contributed to this report.