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BEACH GUIDE: Is the beach open? Your guide to Panhandle beaches from Panama City to Pensacola Beach

Annie Blanks
Pensacola News Journal
Northwest Florida Daily News

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As beaches across the Panhandle start to re-open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, different municipalities are establishing their own rules for beach openings.

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Though things can change quickly, here's a play-by-play of what's open and when on Panhandle beaches from Pensacola to Panama City, as of Monday, May 4:

Pensacola Beach

— Open 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

— Everyone going to the beach must follow social distancing guidelines of staying in groups of 10 or less, and groups must be at least six feet apart from other groups.

The area under the Pensacola Beach Pier, pavilions and public restrooms are all closed.

The county will place portable hand washing stations and toilets for at least the first week the beaches will be open.

No restriction on activities .

Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier is open, for fishing only.

Navarre Beach

Beginning Wednesday, May 6, the beach will be open 24/7 and the Navarre Beach Marine Park parking lot will be open from sunrise to sunset. The Navarre Beach Fishing Pier will open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., normal summer operating hours.

— Beach access will be available via the main pier parking lot only and the pavilions at the east end of the beach at the Navarre Beach Marine Park, closest to Gulf Islands National Seashore. Parking lot hours will be limited to coincide with beach opening.

— In accordance with federal guidelines and state executive orders, visitors can gather in no more than groups of 10 and maintain appropriate social distancing.

Okaloosa County (Okaloosa Island, James Lee Park in Destin)

— Beaches and the fishing pier are open from sunrise to sunset

Destin

— Open daily from dawn until dusk.

— This does not include James Lee Park (operated by Okaloosa County) or Henderson Beach State Park (operated by the state of Florida).

—All beach activities, including commercial ones such as weddings and beach chair/umbrella rentals, will be allowed whenever the beaches are open.

— People cannot gather in groups of 10 or more.

Henderson Beach State Park (Destin)

Closed until further notice.

Not included in first phase of the gradual re-opening of state parks.

Gulf Islands National Seashore

— Okaloosa County area is open as of Saturday, May 2.

— The Santa Rosa County area (in between Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach), including Highway 399, will reopen on Wednesday, May 6.

— The Opal Beach Complex will remain closed.

— Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas will remain closed.

Walton County (30A, Miramar Beach, Sandestin, Santa Rosa Beach)

—Open without time restrictions.

—All normal beach activities are allowed (sunbathing, exercising, surfing, etc.)

—Vending, special events and bonfires on the beach are prohibited.

—Social distancing is required.

Bay County (Panama City)

—Open daily without time restrictions.

—Public gatherings larger than 10 people are prohibited.

Panama City Beach

—Open daily without time restrictions.

—Public gatherings larger than 10 people are prohibited.

Annie Blanks can be reached at ablanks@pnj.com or 850-435-8632.