People Flock to Florida’s Reopened Beaches as State Death Toll Hits 726!

Neptune Beach Outside of Jacksonville, Florida

Dear Commons Community,

The state of Florida passed two milestones in the coronavirus pandemic this week: its deadliest day yet, and the reopening of several public beaches. People in Florida are flocking to several beaches as they reopened after being closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, despite the state’s death toll climbing to 726.  As reported by several news media.

When police removed barriers from one of these beaches on Friday, crowds cheered, CNN reported.

The Republican Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who was widely criticized for moving slowly to contain the outbreak, permitted some reopenings.

DeSantis said some cities should feel free to reopen beaches and parks if doing so could be done safely, and with social-distancing restrictions. “Do it in a good way,” DeSantis told reporters, saying people needed fresh air. “Do it in a safe way.”

The areas that reopened were in north Florida, including stretches of sand in Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, and Atlantic Beach, local TV reported.

The “essential activities” permitted at Jacksonville Beach include “recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing”.

“This beach will be open from 6am to 11am, and from 5pm to 8pm each evening,” local station WJAX said.

Sunbathing is not permitted. Other restrictions include prohibitions on towels and blankets, coolers and grills, and beach chairs, as well as “lingering on the beach without moving”, and gatherings exceeding 10 people.

“Folks, this could be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life, but please respect and follow these limitations,” said the Jacksonville mayor, Lenny Curry. “We’ll get back to life as we know it but we must be patient.”

“I honestly thought it was phenomenal,” Jacksonville resident Amanda Campos told First Coast News. “It gives people fresh air. They can go for a walk. It’s nothing crazy. We’re not saying the clubs are opening and it’s not a closed space.”

Some were worried, however.

Deborah Melvin, a Jacksonville resident who said she had lost family and friends to Covid-19 said: “This is really a crazy bad idea.”

“I’m afraid. I’m afraid for myself. I’m afraid for my family. Everybody should use their common sense,” she added.

DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order on 1 April, much later than many states and one month after Florida marked its first confirmed Covid-19 cases. He drew significant criticism for not closing beaches during the earlier college spring break, which draws hundreds of thousands to the state annually, when beaches were packed and some dismissed the dangers of the virus.

I am not sure that opening beaches is such a good idea.



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