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Pinellas County beaches will be open for July 4

The mayor says closing Clearwater Beach would overrun other nearby beaches, and County Administrator Barry Burton said hotels and pools would become overcrowded.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — With the Independence Day weekend approaching, more and more beaches across the state of Florida are closing.

Beaches in Broward and Palm Beach counties will be closed during the Fourth of July weekend as COVID-19 cases continue to spike.

They join those in Miami-Dade County that are slated to close.

RELATED: More Florida beaches are closing ahead of July 4 weekend

However, the 35 miles of coastline in Pinellas County will remain open despite the heavy crowds expected.

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said he and other leaders in Pinellas County have been agonizing over the decision while County Administrator Barry Burton said there's "no easy answer."

Mayor Hibbard believes the decision needs to be made at the county level because if just Clearwater Beach closed, that would send crowds to smaller beaches nearby.

"It’s the old balloon theory. If you push on the balloon on one side it will pop out the other so there can be unintended consequences," said Mayor Hibbard.

Other unintended consequences include crowded hotels and overrun pools and decks if the county closed their beaches noted Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton.

Burton said, "Outdoors on the beach is a good solution," as he and other leaders try to balance public policy with tolerance.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office sent 10 Tampa Bay this statement:

"PCSO will patrol the beaches as we ordinarily do and there is no extra patrol planned due to COVID-19. We believe the current measures in place are the best and most reasonable efforts to mitigate virus transmission and we do not believe closing the Pinellas beaches is necessary or helpful."

Hibbard is a proponent of enforcing personal responsibility and reminding people to be courteous and of the people around them.

"Certainly without fireworks this year, pretty much around the entire Bay Area, I think the number one attraction is going to be the beaches. What we try to do is communicate with people to use common sense. I think we’re all now COVID-19 experts on sanitizing and distancing," he said.

Clearwater Beach has added more hand-washing stations for visitors to use and staff is now cleaning and sanitizing high-traffic areas more frequently.

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