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Pinellas County will close all beaches amid COVID-19 pandemic

The beach closures begin at 11:59 p.m. Friday, meaning - for practical purposes - they really are in place beginning Saturday.

The Pinellas County Commission has unanimously voted to close all public beaches and parking areas.

The order is part of an expansion of the county's local state of emergency, which was activated over concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

The beach closures begin Saturday and will last until April 6.

"Under the resolution, private owners along the beach are also asked to conform to the CDC guidelines of social distancing by maintaining 6 feet of separation from others and limiting group gatherings to no more than 10 people," the county explained.

The commission also approved a resolution, asking the state to temporarily shut down Honeymoon Island State Park -- which would include Caladesi Island --  as part of the effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

"Commissioners also urged residents to implement voluntary shelter in place practices," the county said.

The decision comes after Tampa, Clearwater and Manatee County announced they were all shutting down the shorelines 

Clearwater was originally going to wait until March 23 to close its beaches but city leaders say they will follow the county's mandate and shut them down Friday night. 

Chief Medical Officer of Tampa General Hospital’s Urgent Care Dr. Paul Nanda said the beaches themselves aren't the issue, it's the large groups who gather there.

“It becomes very serious when young, healthy people don’t know they’re infected transmitting that to other people,” he explained.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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