FORT PIERCE, FL (June 26, 2020) - In light of the escalation of positive cases of COVID-19 infections, the Manatee Observation and Education Center (MOEC) will be closing the Exhibit Hall and Gift Shop to the public effective Monday, June 29th. This difficult decision has been made as a precaution for the health and safety of our visitors, volunteers, and staff. During the upcoming weekend, we will be reducing the number of persons permitted into the Exhibit Hall to 15 maximum, and masks will be required. We will closely monitor the coronavirus situation daily and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control to determine a re-opening date.

During the closures, the Gift Shop will remain open for Curbside Pick-up. We invite patrons to purchase their items from home at www.VanishingMermaid.org<http://www.VanishingMermaid.org> and select the "Pick up in store" option for curbside pick-up.

Education programs such as MOEC summer camps and visiting camps will continue as scheduled unless conditions make it necessary for these programs to be rescheduled or cancelled. We hope that by closing the Exhibit Hall to the public, we will be making our facility safer to continue our environmental education to MOEC camps and visiting camps with minimal exposure.

MOEC summer camps have been heavily adapted to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure. This year, camps are half-day camps that are limited to 12 campers. Camp itineraries have been designed to keep campers outdoors and in the fresh air as much as possible, while still capturing the "adventure" that is so important to our summer camps each year. Each camper and counselor also receives a special Manatee Center face covering in addition to their camp t-shirts.

As the positive cases of coronavirus continue to escalate, please follow these suggested guidelines:

*         Wear a face mask when out in public.

*         Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and then discard. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.

*         Clean and disinfect "high touch" surfaces often. High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tables, and bedside tables.

*         Wash hands often with soap and water - 20 seconds or longer. If you don't have soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

*         Dry hands with a clean towel or use a warm air hand dryer.

*         Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands or after touching surfaces.

*         Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals.

*         Stay home when you are sick, and keep your children home when they are sick.

*         Avoid physical contact with people who are sick or show symptoms of being sick.

*         Call your doctor to discuss symptoms before visiting the office.

MOEC will continue to communicate regularly through our website (www.ManateeEducationCenter.org<http://www.ManateeEducationCenter.org>), Facebook (www.Facebook.com/ManateeCenter<http://www.Facebook.com/ManateeCenter>), and news releases. We are proud to serve you, and we will face this challenge together.

About MOEC: The Manatee Observation and Education Center is a not-for-profit environmental learning center, located in downtown Fort Pierce. Now in its 24th year, MOEC's mission is to promote understanding and repsonsible actions for the protection of the Treasure Coast's fragile ecosystem and its inhabitants. Innovative exhibits and displays allow for an up-close look at some of the unique and amazing creatures found along the Treasure Coast, as well as an opportunity to see the threatened Florida manatee in its native habitat.

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