Both the county and the city of Carrabelle moved April 9 to close boat ramps to visitors, mirroring an action that Apalachicola had put into place lthe week earlier


By unanimous consent by their commissioners, both the county, at a morning conference call meeting, and Carrabelle, at one in the early afternoon, voted to close the boat ramps to everyone but residents, and those who can prove they own property in the county.


The Carrabelle resolution varied slightly in that it also allowed for non-resident commercial fishermen to use the ramps in the city. This was included because city officials said there may be a handful of fishermen from neighboring counties who use the city boat ramps to access oyster bars or aquaculture leases.


County Commissioner William Massey made the motion to keep the ramps open only to county residents.


"As long as boat ramps are open to local residents I don’t have an issue with it," said Commissioner Smokey Parrish.


There was concern among the commissioners about a possible surge of non-resident property owners from neighboring states, for example Georgia, which has been hard hit.


"If there are problems with non-resident property owners, then you could limit it further," advised County Attorney Michael Shuler.


The original draft of the ordinance had required a copy of the deed or a signed lease for proof of ownership or residency, but Shuler advised that it be stricken due to a scrivener’s error. As it stands now, a utility or tax bill is deemed sufficient, but not a hurricane re-entry tag.


The county’s action took place immediately and is in place until the state and county lift their state of emergency., when the closure would sunset automatically.


Penalty for breaking this law is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six days in jail and a $500 fine.


The county rule allows for commercial fishermen working an aquaculture lease, as part of the exception for those conducting official business within the county.


"We know who's supposed to be down there and who’s not," said Sheriff A.J. Smith.


Closure of the county’s beaches also remain closed until the expiration of the statewide state of emergency. Gov. DeSantis also has closed down all vacation rentals at least until the end of the month.


"The idea is to prohibit the public from gathering," said Shuler. "This does not prohibit individuals from using their private beach property. But even if they have a private beach they are expected to comply with the social distancing order."