Season Begins, Florida Scallopers Proceed Amid Pandemic

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This scallop season, Floridians are being advised to practice social distancing by the CDC.

Christine Hunter, of Crystal River, said it’s tough to practically follow the recommendations.

“You know when we go out, we stay kind of isolated and away from the other boaters,” she said. “However, when we go out, we also see some people that are all tied up with like five boats in a row.”

An additional area of concern is the snorkeling gear on scalloping charters that are traditionally rented by customers.

This season, Captain Jim Lemke is recommending people bring their own gear to use when renting his charters to help slow the spread, but if needed he said he will supply scallopers who need gear.

Lemke said he is also taking additional sanitary precautions.

“We have buckets with some bleach and dawn,” he said. “Even on the boats, we have that so you can put your equipment in there, leave it in there for a few minutes and clean it.”

Already, Lemke has noticed a sizable decrease in charter sales during weekdays. On weekends, however, he is as busy as ever, with weekends booked through the end of July.

Other scallopers are more wary. Despite the precautions, some people, like Christine Hunter, are opting to stay home this scallop season.

“Mistakes happen, and unfortunately, this is not a time for mistakes so I would probably not risk it,” Hunter said.

About Kyler Speagle

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