The party continues on Beer Can Island, but for members only

The owners say they’ve sold memberships to 650 people and insist there’s room for many groups of 10 to gather.
Beer Can Island off Apollo Beach is temporarily closed to the general public but remains open to the 650 people who purchased memberships.
Beer Can Island off Apollo Beach is temporarily closed to the general public but remains open to the 650 people who purchased memberships. [ Times (2018) ]
Published Mar. 20, 2020|Updated Mar. 21, 2020

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UPDATE: Beer Can Island is now closed to everyone.

TAMPA — Pinellas County and the city of Tampa have decided to close public beaches to help prevent the crowding that can spread coronavirus.

But privately owned Pine Key, the boating and camping destination better known as Beer Can Island, will remain open to members.

The island is temporarily closed to the public but open for those 650 people who purchased different levels of memberships that entitle them to amenities such as access to private parties and overnight camping.

Still, food and beverage sales will be suspended as of Monday.

“We regret to have to take anyone’s enjoyment of the island away," the owners posted to Beer Can Island’s Facebook page. "We all need it now more than ever.”

The owners will abide by restrictions that include groups of no more than 10 people.

“The island is over 500,000 square feet, so there’s plenty of room for 650 guests to stay in groups of 10 or less with proper distance,” Russell Loomis, one of the owners, told the Tampa Bay Times via Facebook Messenger.

About two years ago, Loomis and three friends bought the 11-acre island spoil island at the southern edge of Hillsborough Bay, between Apollo Beach and MacDill Air Force Base.

The previous owners used it as a place to dump sand dredged for decades from their marina basin but boaters flocked to the island on weekends.

The new owners have added portable toilets, trashcans, a small stage and a floating tiki bar the size of a tennis court.

Hillsborough County Code Enforcement department recently cited the owners for adding those amenities without a site plan or permits. The owners will appeal before the Hillsborough County Code Enforcement Board.

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