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Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center plans to reopen Nov. 1

The center has been closed for 19 months.

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. — Editor's note: The video above is from Oct. 16, 2020.

After being closed for almost two years, Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center is reopening next week.

On Nov. 1, the viewing center will reopen, TECO said in a release.

"For the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to the Manatee Viewing Center every winter, we have missed you, and we are so glad to welcome you back," Stan Kroh, manager of Land and Stewardship Programs for Tampa Electric, said.

The popular viewing center in Apollo Beach closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Back in December, the viewing center remained closed "to help protect the health and safety of visitors and the community" amid the COVID-19 pandemic, TECO said in a release. 

The Manatee Viewing Center has undergone many renovations and repairs since closing. The center has even installed new displays and interactive games. 

As the center gets ready to accept guests, safety precautions will be in place to adhere to pandemic protocols. There will be a limited number of guests allowed inside the gift shop, a mask requirement indoors, enhanced cleaning procedures and sanitizer stations.

During the winter, manatees gather in Tampa Bay near Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. At Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center, people are able to see the sea animals up close from their many boardwalks and vantage points. 

Beginning Nov. 1, the Manatee Viewing Center's regular hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day through April 15, except on major holidays.

It's completely free to enter and park at the Apollo Beach facility.

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