Not social distancing at the beach? Marco Island to issue citations with $200 fines to violators

Erik Brechnitz, Marco Island City Council chairperson, speaks during a council meeting on Sept. 16, 2019.

Marco Island will issue citations with fines of $200 to beachgoers who do not "voluntarily comply" with social distancing guidelines, according to a city news release sent Wednesday.

City Council Chairperson Erik Brechnitz executed an emergency declaration which increases fines for "failing to appropriately social distance on the beach," illegal parking and other violations like carrying glass containers, littering and walking dogs.

Social distancing, also called physical distancing, means staying at least six feet from other people, not gathering in groups, staying out of crowded places and avoiding mass gatherings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

Marco Island Police Department and its Code Enforcement unit will be issuing notices to appear, notices of violation, citations and tickets depending on each situation, according to Captain Dave Baer.

"In some occasions, a court or magistrate appearance may be required," he said. "In other cases the respondent or offender has the option to pay the fine without appearing."

The new rules are part of the city's plan to mitigate the effects of crowding on Marco Island beaches during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is our goal that these measures will reduce visitors to the island during the COVID-19 pandemic, and continue to protect the health and safety of Marco Island residents," written in the release.

Reporter Patrick Riley with Naples Daily News reported on May 12 that Collier County will restrict beach access from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and from 5 p.m. to sundown on Saturdays and Sundays.

The county will also restrict access to its beach parking to only allow vehicles with county or city beach parking stickers on weekends, including Memorial Day.

Reporter Karl Schneider with Naples Daily News reported on May 11 that the city of Naples will also restrict beach access.

More:Wary of out-of-town crowds, Collier restricts beach hours, parking on weekends

And:Naples votes to reopen beaches — again — with some limitations

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