Clearwater Beach, Florida, was packed with visitors who appeared to have not heeded warnings to social distance themselves as part of efforts to help slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Images and footage from the snow-white beach along Florida’s west coast showed sun worshipers and spring breakers packed on the sand this weekend.
While some beaches on the east coast were closed due to the deadly flu-like virus, also known as COVID-19, crowds still came, despite the warnings.
Clearwater Beach, Florida, was packed with visitors who appeared to have not heeded warnings to social distance themselves as part of efforts to help slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak
Aerial photos of Clearwater Beach, Florida, this weekend show the crowds who still came out, despite coronavirus warnings
Sun worshipers are seen lying on the sand and wading in the surf of Clearwater Beach, Florida, this weekend, ignoring coronavirus warnings
Images and footage from the snow-white beach along Florida’s west coast showed sun worshipers and spring breakers packed on the sand. Three women pictured do not seem to be social distancing, as health officials have requested to slow the outbreak
Visitors to Clearwater Beach, Florida, are seen strolling a packed boardwalk where few people appeared to be practicing social distancing to combat the spread of deadly coronavirus
Tampa beaches near Clearwater also were open and busy this weekend, reports WFLA.
The coronavirus pandemic has been blamed for 6,500 deaths around the globe.
There have been more than 4,500 confirmed cases and 79 deaths from the infection in the US.
Cities and states around the nation have responded to the outbreak by closing schools and shuttering bars, restaurants and venues where large gatherings take place, asking people to social distance themselves until the virus is contained.
Despite the efforts, hundreds of college spring breakers still defied orders from police to stop partying on the beach after a stretch of Florida’s South Beach was closed due to coronavirus fears.
There have been more than 4,600 confirmed cases and 86 deaths from the infection in the US.
How the coronavirus outbreak grew over time in the US since it was first detected in January
Instead of returning home when the famed party strip was closed on Saturday afternoon many students continued the week of celebrations further down the coast on other parts of the beach.
The most popular parts of the beach closed to the public from 4.30pm Saturday and are set to remain shut until March 19 with Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber declaring that spring break in Miami Beach is ‘over’ after a state of emergency was declared Thursday.
With 149 positive cases of coronavirus in the state of Florida, many of whom are teens or in their early twenties, the Centers for Disease Control has advised that all events with more than 50 people attending should be cancelled.
Four people in the state have died from the virus.
Despite warning signs at the entry of the beach advising against mass gatherings and urging beach goers to practice social distancing the crowds of students continued to pour in throughout Sunday.
In close physical proximity the crowds appeared to disregard the warnings put forward by the CDC.
Students ignored signs in South Beach to avoid ‘mass gatherings’ and practice ‘social distancing’
With 149 positive cases of coronavirus in the state of Florida the Centers for Disease Control has advised that all events with more than 50 people attending should be cancelled. Two women wade in the surf at South Beach
A group of students carry out acrobatics on the beach as they enjoy a drink in the sun in South Beach
South Beach, Florida, has closed from Fifth to 15th streets until March 19 to stop mass gatherings by the students
City Manager Jimmy Morales enacted the emergency measures over the weekend as party-hungry college students continued to travel to the popular spring break destination, despite the threat of the coronavirus outbreak and the news that President Trump is considering domestic travel restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control even greeted beachgoers with a floating billboard on Saturday which urged sunbathers to avoid contact with other people who are sick.
Morales went a step further as the cases in Florida began to jump, opening up Ocean Drive to cars and deciding to close public beaches from seventh to tenth street along South Beach from 4.30pm Saturday to limit gatherings of spring breakers – the closure has now extended from Fifth to 15th streets.
In an email to Gelber, Morales claimed that spring breakers ‘don’t seem to care about viruses’ but that these measures should go some way to cutting down potentially harmful large gatherings.
Students washed off in the sea after relaxing in South Beach while other groups held competitive sports games such as American football in the sea
A girl carries two drinks while dipping her feet in the sea while another wears a cowboy hat and a ‘Miami Beach’ tee in South Beach
‘Miami Beach is a popular vacation spot for spring breakers, yet with school closings and expanded spring breaks, the influx of visitors is extremely high,’ Gelber said.
‘It would be irresponsible for us not to limit crowd sizes in these public areas.
‘Not only for our residents and visitors, but for the health and safety of our first responders.
‘We cannot continue to put them at risk by asking them to expose themselves to the possibility of contracting this virus.’
People who violate the closure in South Beach could be hit with a $500 fine or face up to 60 days in jail. A couple get cozy on the beach despite social distancing (right)
Restaurants in the area with a capacity of more than 250 people were told to reduce the number of people they serve or close.
The city announced on Monday: ‘Starting 3/16 non-essential businesses will be required to close daily by 10PM & there will be a curfew in the Entertainment District from 11PM – 5AM.’
Some schools in the state have also closed due to the threat posed by the virus.
Addressing the students, Gelber told Sun Sentinel: ‘You have a mother, you have a grandmother and maybe a great-grandmother. That virus can be extremely dangerous to them.’
Spring Break continues in South Beach as parts of the beaches were closed, as police standby
Police are present on the closed main stretch of South Beach from Fifth Street to 15th Street.
People who violate the closure could be hit with a $500 fine or face up to 60 days in jail.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press conference: ‘Florida is not going to be a place where you are going to be out until 2am with 500 people in some bar. Those gatherings present high risks.’