VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Memorial Day weekend is here, but this year things will be a little different thanks to the coronavirus.
What You Need To Know
- Big crowds expected at Volusia beaches this holiday weekend
- Safety this weekend is top priority for beach patrols
- Get complete coronavirus coverage
However, big crowds are still expected at the Volusia County beaches. Hotels like The Plaza Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach are begging to welcome back guests after closing due to the pandemic.
To stay on the safe side, The Plaza is capping their occupancy at around 70 percent and introducing many new safety measures.
“We have 6 foot distancing that we are including, as well as markers and hand sanitizer throughout the property for guests as well as associates,” said Kenneth Tucker, controller at The Plaza Resort and Spa.
Safety is top of mind this holiday weekend for beach patrols as well.
“We are anticipating everyone from around the state, even out of state, to be here this weekend," said Capt. Tamra Malphurs, of Volusia County Beach Safety.
While all beach access ramps are now open, socially distanced parking will still be enforced. Beach safety hopes people will follow those rules and stay apart — so they can focus on the water.
“We are experiencing more hazardous rip current conditions this weekend unfortunately than we have seen in the last few weeks,” said Malphurs.
Thursday alone they made 84 water rescues. One man who got caught in a rip current died.
“Unfortunately we did have a drowning," said Malphurs. "It was in an unguarded area, the closest lifeguard was about a half mile away so we need you to remember to swim in front of those lifeguard towers.”
They’ll have a full staff to watch over any large crowds this weekend, which beach safety believes is a sign of what’s to come this summer.
“The beach safety division is ready and lifeguard towers are fully staffed. There is no excuse not to swim in front of a staffed lifeguard tower. It may sound logical, but I’m going to say it again, swim in front of a staffed lifeguard tower,” said Ray Manchester, director of the Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue.
With hotel booking rise, it will only get more crowded from here.
“We definitely have demand for the weekend after this and going out, we are seeing it grow faster than we thought it would, so we are definitely hoping that that trend continues,” said Tucker.
Beach Safety expects to have to cut off beach parking to due to high tides and reaching their limited capacity. They recommend getting out on the sand early and parking in one of the off beach parking lots, all of which will stay open.
Parking though on the beaches will be easier as those pandemic restrictions continue to ease around Volusia County.
All off-beach parking will be open at 100 percent capacity.
And all beach ramps will be open as normal, but you’ll need to park in front of a blue post or conservation post that are placed at 25 foot intervals.
Last year, 43 million Americans traveled during Memorial Day weekend - the second highest travel volume on record, according to AAA.
With social distancing guidelines still in practice in many spots, this weekend’s travel numbers are expected to set a record low.