Cocktails, tennis balls served as final COVID restrictions lift

Editor & Publisher

Two activities that were all but banished in Sarasota and Longboat Key over the past few months can begin again on Monday, June 8.

The Town of Longboat Key and the entire region is now free to open its bars and restaurant bar seating to 50 percent capacity following an Executive Order by Gov. Rick DeSantis issued last Friday.

Adding to the community excitement, especially for tennis enthusiasts, is the opening of the Longboat Key Public Tennis Courts, the Longboat Key Club Tennis Gardens and the City of Sarasota’s Tennis Courts at Payne Park for doubles play.

Doubles tennis was on hold due to the coronavirus threat and Town Manager Tom Harmer was reticent to open Longboat’s Public Tennis Center until the US Tennis Association guidelines said it was appropriate. Harmer was also hesitant to open until the City of Sarasota and the Key Club also planned to open.

On Longboat Key, courts 1-6, which are located directly in front of the Public Tennis Center building, will be used for doubles. The courts on the north side of Bay Isles Road will be used for singles play. Each group of doubles is asked to use appropriate social distancing as well as using the hand sanitizer that the town has installed at each court.

Additionally, players are encouraged to bring their own water bottles. The situation is similar at Payne Park, which also opens on June 8 for doubles play.

Harmer said pickleball is still on hold through at least June 15 and that the US Pickleball Association is still discouraging doubles play. Harmer said that the restriction on pickleball may extend past June 15 since it is played at much closer proximity than tennis, and partners are rotated.

There have been no new cases of coronavirus in more than a month on Longboat Key. In addition to tennis and bars, gym and fitness establishments can now operate at full capacity.

Entertainment businesses including movie theaters, concert halls, play houses, bowling alleys and similar establishments can operate at 50 percent capacity with appropriate social distancing. For those looking for a tattoo, a massage or to impart a tan upon their skin, such establishments are now open so long as their adhere to the Florida Department of Health guidelines.

Florida Schools and Universities are due to present their reopening plans on June 23.

The self-quarantine requirement of 14 days still exists for visitors from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

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