Coastal mayors including Orange Beach’s Tony Kennon, Dauphin Island’s Jeff Collier and Gulf Shores’ Robert Craft are speaking with the governor’s office this morning to coordinate efforts to close public beaches in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a news conference this morning, Craft announced Gulf Shores public beach accesses would be closed for two weeks — from 7 a.m. Friday morning until April 6.
“In addition, we’re hopeful we come to a consensus that we close all of our beaches for a two-week rest period, and let’s see what has happened and let’s protect our community primarily our locals, our works and our visitors that come here,” Craft said. “Our goal is, let’s not put ourselves in a situation where we’re allowing a lot of people to come to town and gather in groups, which they are doing.”
Craft said the city has not been able to control crowds and is concerned that “someone is going to come here sick” and they don’t want to facilitate the spread of infection.
“This will be a threat to our livelihood but it’s also a threat to our lives,” he said. “So we’ve concluded to take a two-week break on everything.”
Gulf Shores has already canceled events and closed public buildings and its city-run school system for two weeks, and most restaurants have switched to take-out only.
“Our goal is primarily to protect our local citizens who are scared to death, but also to protect the public who comes here so they are not infected and go back home, so we’re facilitating the spread throughout the state of Alabama and the Southeast and we’re not willing to do that.”
Yesterday, Collier announced similar beach access closures were being implemented in Dauphin Island, but only the governor can officially close the state-owned beaches.
In Bay Minette, the Baldwin County Commission this morning voted to close access points in unincorporated Fort Morgan.
“I have faith in the peep of Baldwin County that you are going to help in this matter and respect this,” Commission President Billie Jo Underwood said. “We are resilient and we will overcome.”
The mayors and Underwood were expected to be on a conference call with Gov. Kay Ivey at 9 a.m. regarding broader beach closures. This story will be updated as it develops.
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