Update: The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center in Stuart, originally listed in this article, is now closed until further notice.
Staying indoors with energetic children was not an option for Cathy Berry of Sebring.
So Berry and her sister, Teresa Bronsing, of Barefoot Bay, packed the grandchildren and grown children and took them to the Wabasso Causeway to fish, swim and have a little fun in the outdoors.
“Being locked inside is just too much,” Bronsing said Monday.
Faced with a sudden two-week spring break over concerns over the coronavirus, families in Treasure Coast are looking for ways to occupy the children without confining them to home.
The Center for Disease Control recommends “social distancing” and avoids gatherings of more than 50 people to reduce the spread of COVID-19. So far, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported on the Treasure Coast.
The outdoors are safe, said Barbara Schlitt Ford, executive director of the Vero Beach Environmental Learning Center, a 64-acre facility with docks, trails, a butterfly garden, natural play landscape and outdoor activities. . This month, the ELC is offering free entry and remains open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. so people can safely practice social distancing outside.
“The best place to be right now is the great outdoors,” said Ford. “Fresh air is plentiful here.”
County beaches, with the exception of Bathtub Beach in Martin County, remain open, as do some local parks. Saint Lucia has closed its libraries, although customers can request items online and will be greeted at the door by staff. Martin County libraries will close on Wednesday. Indian River County libraries remain open except at the Gifford Youth Achievement Center, although all programs have been canceled.
Florida state parks remain open, but group programs such as boat trips and events have been canceled. The swimming pool and facilities at Leisure Square at Vero Beach are closed on Mondays.
The Stuart Children’s Museum has reduced its schedules to blocks of play time from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., followed by an hour of deep disinfection of toys and equipment. Toys and equipment are sanitized in the dishwasher after each play block, said general manager Tammy Calabria.
Admission to the museum is limited to 50 people, which includes a spring break camp of 10 campers. Disinfection stations are set up at the entrance and staff are monitoring anyone showing signs of illness, Calabria said.
For those who wish to stay indoors, virtual outings are available.
The San Diego Zoo, for example, has live webcams on his penguins, koalas and other animals.
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, which has temporarily closed, also has a live webcam
Editor Keona Gardner contributed to this report.
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