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Know before you go: What to keep in mind about reopened beaches, restaurants

It's the first weekend under Phase One of Gov. Ron DeSantis plan to reopen Florida-- beaches and restaurants are expected to be crowded.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — If you’re thinking of going to the beach this weekend, you're probably not alone. 

It’s the first weekend Florida shorelines will be open under Phase One of Gov. Ron DeSantis plan to reopen Florida-- and beaches in Tampa Bay are expected to be packed.

In fact, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is directing more officers, those that would normally be bailiffs and school resource officers, to the beach.

But, you don’t have to drive all the way to the beach to learn if parking or capacity is full.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s office has launched a new tracking tool that provides real-time data on the capacity of beaches, parking lots and even bridges. Giving residents the chance to check to see if their beach of choice is still open before heading out.

It's as simple as checking a link – pcsoweb.com/beachcapacity

The data is being collected by the nearly 300 officers patrolling the beaches.

Restaurants are expected to be another popular destination. But be sure to call ahead.

“We are only taking reservations," said Chris Arreola, the co-owner of On Swann. 

Some restaurants are still only doing take-out and delivery, while others are trying to manage the 25 percent capacity rule.

“We take three parties every 15 minutes, and we are able to space out those parties so that they are not on top of each other," explained Arreola. 

They are running their reservations for inside dining through Yelp. If you want to arrange a reservation for their outdoor seating, a call to the restaurant is necessary.

Many restaurants are relying on their outdoor seating to serve guests, but that could be an issue on Sunday as rain is expected. 

A good tip is to pick a restaurant where you can order at a counter. That way, if outdoor seating is open, you can snag it. If not, your food is already packed up and ready to go.

RELATED: Here's how to see if the beach is packed before you get there

RELATED: Littering beaches still happening days after reopening, volunteer groups can't do much to help

RELATED: Pinellas County beaches officially reopen with restrictions

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