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Central Florida counties plan for Spring Break amid COVID-19

Spring Breakers in Panama City Beach, Fla. // Source: Wikimedia Commons
Spring Breakers in Panama City Beach, Fla. // Source: Wikimedia Commons

Spring break could bring an increase in visitors to the region, from the tourism corridor to the beaches, which raises the question: Are counties tyrin to prevent a possible COVID-19 surge?

An Orange County spokesperson said the county will continue to enforce its mask mandate throughout Spring Break, as they have been through most of the pandemic. Other central Florida counties like Volusia and Brevard will not have any additional regulations.

Brevard spokesperson Don Walker said that while he said he can't speak for each municipality-- Melbourne Beach did close its beaches near the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 -- the county itself doesn't plan to implement any mandates.

“The county - which never closed its beaches the entire time the pandemic has been around - has no reasons or plans to close any of its beaches," Walker said. "All we’ve ever done from Day One is encourage people to follow the CDC Guidelines.”

Walker said that if people are going to have large gatherings, county officials would prefer to see them gather outdoors rather than indoors since open-air environments have been found safer in avoiding the spread of COVID-19.

Volusia County spokesperson Kate Sark says the county has taken a voluntary approach that has been, so far, successful.

“We came up with an initiative that launched last June that we called 'Step Up, Volusia,' and it was a county-wide effort to encourage individuals to follow those key safety precautions enforced by the CDC," Sark said. "It was a little bit of personal responsibility on people to step up, wash up, back up, and mask up.”

In 2020, when Volusia had a sudden spike in COVID numbers, Sark said they did implement and enforce some COVID rules. However, ever since they put out the "Step Up, Volusia" message, she said, it's been encouraging, well received and just as effective.

Sark said residents have responded well to the call for voluntary action against the spread of the pandemic, which focuses on the core values of CDC safety, and that county officials don't see any reason to enact any COVID mandates throughout Spring Break.