Florida governor refuses to shut down beaches

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refused to issue an order to close the state’s beaches, despite fears regarding the spread of coronavirus.

He instead signed an order that would limit parties on the beach to 10 people per group and forced any businesses authorized to sell liquor to reduce occupancy by half, DeSantis told reporters Tuesday. The governor said that local governments can make their own decisions, but that his order would follow the the latest guidance issued by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

“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,” DeSantis said. “So that applies statewide.”

DeSantis denied that it’s “not uniform throughout the state that you’re seeing massive crowds at beaches,” despite reports of large gatherings on Tampa Bay area beaches.

A video posted Monday by NBC affiliate WFLA showed people packed together on Clearwater Beach.

The city of Clearwater said Tuesday it was shutting down Pier 60 and its spring break camps “out of an abundance of caution,” but its shores remain open to the public.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Tuesday reiterated details from DeSantis’ order on Twitter, but did not mention plans to close the beach.

“Uniformity helps. No congregating on beaches, too. All in interest of public health,” Kriseman tweeted.

The state has 192 confirmed cases of coronavirus and five deaths in the outbreak.

Mayors of both Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, two of the most popular beach destinations in the state, issued orders to close their beaches on Sunday.

NBC News