UPDATED 3/19 11:50 a.m. ET: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis chatted it up with Fox News on Thursday, adding some clarity to the state's response to people congregating in massive groups on the beach amid COVID-19 fears.
"Every single beach will have to abide by the CDC guidelines . . . Not every beach is going to remain open," he reiterated, adding with emphasis that the "party is over" for would-be Spring Breakers. As a reminder, the CDC has advised against any gathering consisting of 10 or more people. Furthermore, it's widely recommended that public gatherings in general be avoided as much as possible.
DeSantis, notably, did not mention a widely called-for state order to close all beaches outright, choosing instead to continue attempting to enforce the 10-person rule. An effect of this has been local leaders taking matters into their own hands regarding closures.
See original story below.
It appears that Florida spring breakers have disregarded social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic. Photos and videos that have surfaced online show Clearwater Beach crowded with thousands of tourists who are swimming and lying next to each other.
On Tuesday morning, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mandated that all bars and nightclubs close for 30 days. He also advised that the state’s 12 public universities use distance learning for students for the rest of the semester. He ordered restaurants to cut down their maximum capacity by 50% and suggested that people get take out.
Yet, he didn’t order beaches across the state to close. “What we're going to be doing is, simply, for the statewide floor for beaches, is applying the CDC guidance of no group on a beach more than 10 and you have to have distance apart if you're going to be out there,” DeSantis said, per CBS News. “Different localities are going to make decisions about what makes sense.”
Many beachgoers haven’t taken concerns for coronavirus seriously. Public health experts have recommended avoiding gatherings of over 10 people. The CDC also recommends keeping six feet away from other people.
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I'm not gonna let it stop me from partying,” Brady Sluder, a spring breaker from Ohio, told Reuters. “We're just out here having a good time. Whatever happens, happens.”
Though Florida’s Gulf Coast is packed with spring breakers, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, and other beaches have shuttered. As of Tuesday, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, venues, and gyms are also closing in some cities.