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NEWS: Social Distancing Applies to Boating, Too

Social distancing is no longer for just those on land, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says.

An order from the FWC essentially puts an end to sandbar and island parties, which had continued on even after the closure of local beaches.

The government agency released an order on Friday, just in time for the weekend, that says all boaters must stay at least 50 feet apart while on the water, and that no recreational boat is allowed to have more than 10 people on board.

Recent weekends have seen boaters taking to barrier islands and sandbars to have large group parties.

“What they are doing is tying all of these boats together and having large group parties,” Gov.Ron DeSantis said in a news conference Friday. “I’m directing FWC to issue an emergency order to enforce the social distancing rules on the waterways,”

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri also spoke about the order on Friday, saying the Sheriff’s Office will have patrols out making sure boaters are following the rules, especially those who go out to sand bars and islands.

“We’re paying attention to the spoil islands, especially that area down around John’s Pass,” Gualtieri said. “Three Rooker bar in the north part of the county and all those islands in the Intracoastal Waterway.”

The executive order from the wildlife commission says boaters who do not follow these rules are considered a “hazard to public safety.”

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