Beaches close, resorts stay open amid coronavirus precautions

By Joe Opaleski
On Assignment with
Fernandina Observer
March 24, 2020

Correction to the article below.  St Johns County closed its beach parking lots on March 20, not its beaches. We have corrected the error.

FERNANDINA— Last week, state-ordered social distancing limited waterfront access in many parts of the Sunshine State. But Amelia Island’s largest resorts remain open, while our beaches are closed.

Resorts have been closing up and down the east coast after the State of Florida mandated stricter social distancing. Over the weekend, a letter from the Office of the City Manager declared Fernandina Beach would close its Amelia Island beaches until further notice.

Omni hotels, a national resort chain, said they could close 7 of their locations across the country to stop the spread of the coronavirus, in a press release on their website. But their beachfront resort at Amelia Island will remain open despite the restrictions.

The same message assured guests that Omni’s cleaning materials “meet or exceed industry standards.” They will continue to supply hand sanitizer at their front desks and supply resort associates with sanitizing wipes to keep surfaces clean.

Another Amelia Island resort, The Ritz-Carlton, will also remain open despite these new restrictions. Joe Murphy, the hotel’s director of public relations, had “no comment” on any precautions the Ritz will take in the coming weeks, but noted that cleanliness is common practice at their location.

In contrast to Nassau County resorts, the Lodge and Club at Ponte Vedra Beach announced it will close all hotels and related businesses to prevent spread of the coronavirus. They are refunding guests with outstanding reservations and hope to reopen in the next 30 days.

*St. Johns County closed its “beach parking lots on March 20, one day before Nassau ordered its cities to do the same.

Joe Opaleski


Joe Opaleski is a Poynter-trained journalist with experience covering breaking news, crime and higher education at his college newspaper: The Current. He also worked at the Tampa Bay Times covering local food and drink. Joe enjoys surfing, hiking, craft beer and good journalism.

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