Reduced Daily Hours & Capacity Limits
Florida State Parks have reduced daily operating hours around the Sunshine State amid coronavirus concerns. State Parks are now open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (rather than closing at sundown). Also, new daily visitor capacity limits are intended to reduce crowds and density. This allows for “social distancing,” the phrase heard constantly these days.
Gate Closed Early At Fort Clinch
Fort Clinch State Park sprawls from the oceanfront to the river, occupying a large chunk of Amelia Island’s north end. This park is a popular island oasis for local residents and visitors alike to spend time outdoors. The park property is the largest natural area on Amelia Island.
Fort Clinch had already closed the buildings in the park — the Visitor’s Center and museum, and closed access/tours of the fortress. But the park’s expansive property including the beaches, have remained open for daily use. However, with new COVID-19 restrictions, getting into the park has become matter of getting there early.
An attempted visit to Fort Clinch State Park on Thursday, March 19, in the afternoon at 3 pm, found the park’s entry gate closed. The sign posted stated:
“Park is closed to daily visitation due to COVID-19. The park will reopen tomorrow at 8 am.”
As we all know, with the escalating coronavirus public emergency, new announcements of state directives here in Florida, and other states, are fluid. Florida State Parks, on their Facebook page, indicates they “will continue to keep the public informed as the situation develops.”
According to Florida State Parks:
“In order to implement the Governor’s directive to limit gatherings on public beaches to less than 10, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will reduce the visitor capacity at state parks with beaches and swimming areas beginning Thursday, March 19, 2020. DEP and Florida State Parks recognize the nature of the situation surrounding COVID-19 and acknowledge these decisions may change quickly. We will continue to keep the public informed on the Florida State Parks webpage, all social media channels and through press releases, as the situation continues to develop.”
Along with reducing park hours, all activities and events have also canceled at Florida State Parks (March 16, 2020 Twitter Post):