To help manage crowds, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is launching a tool to allow beach-goers to check crowd sizes at beaches and parking lots before they go out their doors.
The Sheriff’s Office is launching the “Beach Capacity Dashboard” at 1 p.m. Friday. The online tool will provide real-time updates for beaches, parking lots and bridges. The weekend is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors to the county’s 35 miles of pristine sand.
“We’re going to do everything we can to help you,” Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Thursday. “We’re going to be constantly updating it. I really encourage everybody to use these tools that are going to be available."
Social media accounts for the Sheriff’s Office, county government and the Clearwater Police Department will push out the tool on Friday, the sheriff said. The public can find the dashboard here: www.pcsoweb.com/beachcapacity.
Like traffic signals, the online tool will display green, yellow and red colors to signify if the areas are open, reaching capacity or closed. The tool also will re-direct people to nearby locations if particular beaches are closed, Gualtieri said.
Gualtieri again urged beach-goers to follow social-distancing requirements that came with the county’s decision to reopen access on Monday after beaches were closed for six weeks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. More than 300 deputies and police officers patrolled beaches, parking lots and hundreds of access points across the county.
The “greatest challenge” will be managing beach crowds on Mother’s Day weekend, Gualtieri said Monday. He repeated that visitors must stay at least 6 feet apart from strangers and not gather in groups larger than 10.
Law enforcement officers will be looking for groups of five or six people who meet up with groups of similar sizes to form bigger gatherings, he said. He encouraged the public to enjoy the sand, sun and saltwater.
“Come enjoy the beaches. Have fun,” he said. “Patronize the businesses. Do what everybody does on the beach and have a great time, but do it in an orderly way.”
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