Marine update: Broward exempts some maritime movement from closures

Mar 25, 2020 by Dorie Cox

By Dorie Cox

Some aspects of maritime movement are exempt from recent Broward County closures for non-essential activity in South Florida. The emergency order affects the county, which is home to Fort Lauderdale and Port Everglades, and became effective as of March 24.

Designated private and municipal marinas and certain marina services are deemed as essential services.

The county continues to caution that congregations of large parties and groups at or near marinas are contrary to the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control for social distancing.

All parks operated by Broward County, including regional, specialty, and neighborhood parks, nature centers, and natural areas are also closed to public access.

Maritime exemptions are described as:

“Private and municipal marinas and boat launches, docking, fueling, marine supply, and other marina services (not including piers), but only to the extent necessary to support the following limited operations:

  • to allow any person with a commercial saltwater license issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to enter and use Broward County owned or operated marinas for commercial fishing purposes only
  • to support patrol, enforcement, and rescue activity by federal, state, or local government agencies
  • to accommodate boats or ferries in support of Port Everglades operations:
  • to accommodate persons living aboard their vessels:
  • to accommodate persons returning to the United States from international voyages; or
  • to authorize persons needing to remove their vessel from the water or to perform emergency maintenance on a vessel, marinas, fueling stations, and marine supply services.”

Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is open and operational as of March 24. An online post describes activity as:

“We are focused on keeping the Port functioning efficiently so fuel and cargo continue to be delivered as quickly as possible into the marketplace.

“A Unified Command has been established to assure that our federal, state and local partners are working in concert to ensure the safety of Broward County. Cruise ships coming into the Port require concurrent approvals from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Florida Health Department in Broward County, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Port Everglades Pilots Association and Broward County’s Port Everglades Department. Prior to voluntarily suspending their schedules, the cruise lines also screened boarding passengers and the ship’s crew members as a precaution, and cruise terminals received extra cleaning and disinfecting.

“During the coming weeks, you may notice cruise ships anchored offshore, or coming into the Port for short stops to pick up fuel and supplies. At this time, there is no shore leave for cruise ship crew members.”

To follow Broward County Florida’s Port Everglades, click here.

UPDATE: March 24, 10:30 a.m.

As local South Florida governments work to contain COVID-19, they continue to update and clarify rules and guidelines. The emergency order signed by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez on March 21 stands, but the following exemptions were clarified for mariners there on March 23.

The following may be allowed to enter and use Miami-Dade County-owned or -operated marinas:

  • boats or ferries in support of PortMiami or Fisher Island operations
  • people living aboard their vessels
  • people returning to the United States from international voyages
  • and people needing to remove their vessel from the water or to perform emergency maintenance on a vessel, marinas, fueling stations, and marine supply services
  • people with a commercial saltwater license issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, for commercial fishing purposes only
  • support patrol, enforcement, and rescue activity by federal, state and local government agencies.

Marina patrons with existing contracts can access their vessels but are not permitted to disembark from the marinas, according to the statement.

UPDATE: March 23, 11:30 a.m.

In an effort to prevent community spread of COVID-19, Miami-Dade County declared its boat ramps and marinas countywide closed as of March 21. Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez exempted “commercial fishermen who provide food for restaurants and markets.”

Public marinas include Bill Bird Marina, Black Point Park & Marina, Crandon Marina, Herbert Hoover Marina, Matheson Marina, and Pelican Harbor Marina.

Palm Beach County posted similar shutdowns closing countywide boat ramps and marinas as of March 22. 

“Effective immediately, all boat ramps and marinas will be closed to all recreational boating activities to include boat launching, in/out storage activities, and boat rentals in Palm Beach County until further notice. Licensed commercial fishermen who provide food for restaurants and markets, commercial marine operations, and support services are permitted to operate.”

Marina supply, fueling and service activities that are necessary to support commercial fishing and marine operations are exempt from the shutdowns. Enforcement of closures is expected by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies.

Closures are being ordered to prevent large group gatherings and to protect the health of residents during the pandemic. Current national guidelines call for gatherings to be limited to groups of 10 or fewer with social distancing of six feet apart.

ORIGINAL POST: March 21, 11:18 a.m.

The maritime industry has been exempted in a list of businesses shut down by Miami-Dade County in South Florida on March 19. In an amendment to the Miami-Dade County Declaration of Local State Emergency shutdown of non-essential business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the list states, “…marinas and boat launches, docking, fueling, marine supply and other marina services provide essential business services during emergencies, including access to living space, repair services, and other vital needs …”

Similarly, the UK government has designated seafarers as key workers, according to Nautilus International, an independent global trade union and professional organization for maritime professionals. The group issued the following press release:

“Following sustained pressure from Nautilus and other transport unions, the UK government has officially designated seafarers as key workers.

“This means that, during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, the children of seafarers can continue to attend school or other childcare settings that are now closed to the majority of pupils.

“But there may also be other benefits arising from this. For example, the UK government’s decision could be used as ammunition in the fight to get seafarers recognized as key workers internationally and exempt them from pandemic-related travel restrictions that are hindering them from carrying out their essential work.

“The UK government’s announcement on the designation of key workers was released online on March 19. It acknowledges the importance of all who work in the supply chain in the following section:


“This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

“Nautilus members who are concerned or are experiencing difficulties related to the coronavirus outbreak are advised to contact their industrial organizer for assistance.”

To follow pending mariner information, visit separate government websites here:

Miami, Florida

Broward County, Florida

Port Everglades

Palm Beach County, Florida

Monroe County, Florida (Florida Keys)

Port of Key West as of March 21:

  • Major U.S. cruise lines have voluntarily suspended operations for 30 days due to coronavirus. 
  • The port is still open for marine traffic which includes recreational vessels.
  • The Ferry Terminal in Key West is closed to incoming passengers.

About Dorie Cox

Dorie Cox is a writer with Triton News.

View all posts by Dorie Cox →