Vice Mayor Shelli Freeland-Eddie was the sole vote against lifting the closure, which has been in place since March.
"Most of the transmissions of this virus has been by asymptomatic people,” she said. “When we continue to open places in our community like the beach, like the restaurants, without having restrictions, we are inviting this virus to share and be spread."
Adjacent county beaches opened about three weeks ago but the city of Sarasota has control over Lido Beach.
For weeks, the majority of commissioners advocated for keeping the beach closed because of COVID-19 hotspots within city limits.
On Monday, commissioners cited stress on surrounding businesses and overcrowding at nearby county beaches as reasons to lift the restriction.
Mayor Jen Ahern-Koch said the city will continue to push for more testing and urged residents to be cautious when venturing out to public spaces.
"You know with the economy opening up, I just don't want the community to get the wrong impression that it is safe, that the virus is gone, and we're past this because we are not and we are far from it," she said.
City Manager Tom Barwin said extra staff will likely be assigned to Lido Beach this holiday weekend to monitor social distancing.
Barwin also presented comments from Sarasota’s County's Health Officer.
“Chuck Henry has reported that overall, Sarasota County COVID-19 testing indicates a slight downward trend in the percent positive rates,” said Barwin.
“Currently, overall they are at 6%, down from 7% on May 4. I know we wanted more data from the UTC mall tests and Mr. Henry says they have produced 52 positive tests of the 3,477 results that have been reported.”
At Monday’s meeting, the commission also discussed the possibility of temporarily closing some streets to traffic to expand outdoor dining. The proposal has received a mixed response from downtown business owners. Ultimately, no decision was made regarding street closures for now.
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