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Tampa’s parks and beaches will stay closed for now, says Mayor Jane Castor

The mayor said her priority is getting small businesses back on their feet

TAMPA — The city’s parks and beaches will stay closed for now, said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on Wednesday.

Castor told the Tampa Bay Times that the coronavirus pandemic remains too much of a threat to reopen the city’s public open spaces.

" I just think it’s too soon to open up beaches and parks so people can congregate," Castor said.

The mayor didn’t give a date for reopening, saying she preferred to focus on getting small businesses and service operators back on their feet and reopening before turning to parks and beaches.

“I think that’s more Phase 2,” Castor said.

The mayor said she wanted to see the details of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan for a state reopening before making decisions about the city’s approach to lifting restrictions. The governor was slated to announce his plan today.

Hillsborough County announced Tuesday it will keep the county’s parks closed until May 15. Also Tuesday, across the bay in Pinellas County, the county commission voted to reopen it beaches starting Monday. Pinellas never closed its county parks. St. Petersburg parks have also remained open, although Mayor Rick Kriseman has imposed some restrictions on their use.

Hernando County also moved to reopen its beaches on Tuesday.

Related: Hillsborough parks to remain closed until May 15

Castor noted that her executive order closing most city parks left six running, biking and walking trails open, including the popular and iconic Riverwalk and Bayshore Boulevard.

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