Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) says he is refusing to close beaches in his state even as thousands of people have been seen in footage visiting Florida beaches despite warnings from the CDC to avoid large gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak, NBC News reports.
DeSantis on Tuesday said that beaches in the state must adhere to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has advised the public to practice social distancing and avoid gatherings with more than 10 people.
“What we’re going to be doing for the statewide floor for beaches, we’re going to be 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. So that applies statewide,” DeSantis reportedly said at a press conference.
BUSY BEACH! This is what @MyClearwater Beach looks like right now as spring break crowds flock to the sand. #Clearwater leaders haven’t decided if they should add a curfew or close beaches but they may vote on measures related to the #coronavirus this Thursday. @abcactionnews pic.twitter.com/jGoxQdYJg5
— Sarah J. Hollenbeck (@SarahHollenbeck) March 16, 2020
“We’ve seen some big crowds on the west coast of Florida and I’ve had a chance to speak to mayors on both coast today,” DeSantis also said, according to a local NBC affiliate. “If … they want to continue to [leave the beach open], we want them to have the freedom to do that, but we also want them to have the freedom to do more if they see fit.”
DeSantis added that it is “not uniform throughout the state that you’re seeing massive crowds at beaches.”
He also urged students celebrating spring break to exercise more caution as the Florida Department of Health reported more than 280 cases of residents with the virus and seven deaths so far.
“The universities with the spring break … a lot of students have just been congregating at the universities and going out and doing things there, and that’s not something we want,” DeSantis said at one point during his press conference on Tuesday, according to Fox News.
DeSantis’ comments came after footage went viral this week showing thousands of beachgoers enjoying the sun and sand on Clearwater Beach, Fla., despite warnings from health officials urging social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) March 16, 2020