In bay area, losses from response to the virus are projected to be more damaging than the virus itself
April 21, 2020
Tampa Bay Times – The Tampa Bay area and Florida are likely to feel more economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic than most parts of the country, a local analysis published Tuesday concludes.
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Commission’s study said Florida has fewer diagnosed COVID-19 cases per capita than many states, but its economy is vulnerable because of the outsized role of tourism and hospitality, as well as the state government’s reliance on sales taxes.
For example, spending by foreign visitors, a big part of Pinellas County’s beach economy, is expected to drop by at least 20 percent.
Council director of planning and research Randy Deshazo wrote:
“Even though the Tampa Bay area has relatively few of the state’s coronavirus cases — about 10 percent or less — its economy is likely to be influenced by a national and statewide downturn even more than actual infections or stress on area hospitals.”
As a result, if the pandemic causes a 10 percent economic contraction for the economy as a whole, the regional planning council says the bay area could see losses of:
- About 218,000 local jobs, or 10.6 percent of the bay area’s employment base of 2 million, due to lost business at hotels, restaurants and stores.
- An estimated $20.9 billion in total economic activity. That would translate to 11.7 percent of overall regional economic output, or gross domestic product, which was expected to be $179 billion this year … Read more.
Which Florida beaches are closed? Which are still open?
April 22, 2020
Florida Politics | While Florida leaders caught flak for leaving many beaches open during spring break, the COVID-19 pandemic eventually led nearly every coastal government in Florida to quarantine the dunes.
But some communities are ready to reopen the beaches now. So where can you find crowds in the sand unconcerned with spreading the novel coronavirus?
Florida Politics is maintaining a running compilation of local beach closures:
Bay County: Beaches restricted
Bay County Commissioners voted to reopen beaches in unincorporated areas on April 24 in a transitional phase, according to WJHG-TV. Beaches will be open 6 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. each day for the foreseeable future, after being closed to all uses. The Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce reported all sandy beaches within the city limits remain closed, and city leaders will discuss following suit with the county on Thursday.
But Mexico Beach City Council voted to reopen the beaches for limited hours and activities, according to the Northwest Daily News. Essential activities like swimming, running, fishing, walking, biking, hunting, and hiking from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. And WMBB reports the Panama City Beach Council meets April 20 to discuss reopening beaches.
Escambia County: Beaches closed
County Commissioners voted to close down Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key Beach, according to the Pensacola News Journal. While the initial plan was to reopen on April 2, the paper has since reported the closure will likely last through the state of emergency. Commissioners are expected to discuss the beaches again on April 28.
Gulf County: Beaches closed
County Commissioners closed all county beaches beginning March 26 through at least April 30, according to Visit Gulf County.
Okaloosa County: Beaches restricted
County commissioners on April 21 voted to open public beaches again for recreational use, reports the Pensacola News Journal. That lifted an order three days earlier than expected.
Santa Rosa County: Beaches closed
County Commissioners voted to close down beaches in the county starting on March 20, reports the Pensacola News Journal. Commissioners are expected to take up the subject of reopening Navarre Beach some time this week. But the county expected to discuss the issue again on Thursday.
Walton County: Beaches closed
All public beaches in the county have been closed, according to ABC 13. The closure just withstood a test in court …
See the full statewide list here.