The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many states to shut down businesses, schools and restrict public gatherings. These are measures recommended by the top health authorities in the country to try to limit the spread of coronavirus. When going out, the guidance from the CDC is to practice social distancing.
Despite these strict measures, pictures and videos of packed beaches in Florida have gone viral online, with many expressing shock and disbelief that this is still taking place in light of the situation. There are currently 216 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida.
A video captured by WFLA News showed Clearwater Beach on March 16, which was packed full of people.
It’s currently spring break, which is a popular time for people to congregate on Florida’s beaches, and it seems the coronavirus hasn’t deterred everyone. Although some cities have decided to shut certain beaches and set curfews, the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, has refused to shut the beaches.
The Governor Has Limited the Size of Gatherings on Beaches But Has Refused to Close Them Completely
Despite the public’s concern about the spread of COVID-19, Governor DeSantis has said he is not ready to close the beaches completely. Instead, on March 17 he signed an executive order stating that people accessing the beaches must adhere to the CDC’s guidelines “by limiting their gatherings to no more than 10 persons [and] distance themselves from other parties by 6 feet.”
The order also ordered all businesses that sell alcohol to reduce their occupancy by half, and bars and nightclubs were forced to shut completely.
Regarding the beaches, DeSantis said: “We’ve seen some big crowds on the west coast of Florida and I’ve had a chance to speak to mayors on both coasts today.” He said that if they want to keep the beaches open, they should be able to, WFLA News reported.
Heavy has reached out to Governor DeSantis’ office as well as the Florida Department of Health for more information on whether they plan to close the beaches but did not immediately hear back.
In a time when many people are practicing social distancing and sharing their concerns about the spread of the virus, these scenes of crowded beaches have garnered a lot of criticism online.
Some Local Governments Have Decided to Shut Down Their Beaches to the Public
The city of Clearwater decided to shut down Pier 60 and the spring break camps, but allowed the shoreline to remain accessible.
Other local governments have decided to close their beaches, including Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach. The Fort Lauderdale mayor, Dean Trantalis, announced on Sunday that their beach would be closing effective immediately until April 12.
The City of Miami Beach also announced the closure of the beaches from Fifth to 15th streets from March 15 until further notice.