Following an executive order issued by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all recreational boats in the state must be at least 50 feet apart.
In addition, boats are not allowed to have more than 10 people onboard.
The executive order was issued on Friday and put into effect immediately, with the specific goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19.
On March 23, DeSantis closed all state parks with the same goal. However, many beaches remain open.
With both the executive order and closure of state parks, no date has been set to ease restrictions.
To clarify how this applies to marinas and while cruising, the order states: “This distance provision does not apply to permitted mooring fields, public or private marinas, or any other permanently installed wet slips, and does not apply to vessels underway unless they are tied, rafted or moored to another vessel.”
The state’s 67 counties have taken different measures in an attempt to quell large gatherings of boaters. While boat ramps and launches, public beaches and country-run natural areas are closed in some places — Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Manatee counties all have active closure orders, with no reopening date — they remain open in Charlotte County and many other areas.
Martin County decided to close access to boat ramps and launches, but just for the weekend.
In St. John’s County, beaches were finally closed on Sunday but ramps and launches are open — a news report from NewsforJax.com showed large afternoon crowds at a county boat ramp.
A list of open/closed status of FWC offices, facilities and managed areas is available here.