A Florida city has shut its beaches due to large crowds just one week after reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic while people elsewhere in the state have protested gym closures by doing push up outside a courthouse.
Officials in Naples ordered beaches in Collier County to close on Sunday after the large crowds visiting on Saturday meant people couldn’t maintain a six-feet distance from each other.
Councilman Gary Price led the push to close the beaches after his friend alerted him to the large crowds and lack of social distancing.
‘I went to the beach,’ Price told the Naples News. ‘It was packed. People were parking everywhere, blocks away.’
He said while he regretted the closures, it was being done to protect the health of locals.
‘It’s pretty sad,’ he said.
‘It’s such a popular place. We’ll figure it out. We are doing this to keep people safe. We are erring on the side of caution.’
Officials in Naples ordered beaches in Collier County to close on Sunday after the large crowds visiting on Saturday (above) meant people couldn’t maintain a six-feet distance from each other
In the nearby city of Clearwater, Floridians angry about gym closures as part of the COVID-19 lockdown protested on Monday on the sidewalk outside the courthouse by doing squats and push ups. Photo courtesy of WFLA
The beaches will remain closed until an emergency council meeting is held later on Monday to determine a solution for enforcing social distancing.
Meanwhile in the nearby city of Clearwater, Floridians angry about gym closures as part of the COVID-19 lockdown protested on the sidewalk outside the courthouse by doing squats and push ups.
The protesters, who weren’t wearing masks or social distancing, shouted for officials to allow gyms to reopen.
Florida’s Governor Rick DeSantis allowed some businesses to reopen from May 4 in the first part of a phased plan but bars, gyms and movie theaters are to remain closed.
At least 40,596 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the state as of Sunday and at least 1,721 people have died.
Since the state began to reopen on May 4, Florida has seen 336 deaths over the six days – an average of 56 new deaths every day.
It comes after thousands of Floridians flocked to beaches across the state over the weekend – the first since restrictions were lifted.
Dozens of boats were spotted on a sandbar near John’s Pass in Pinellas County as the majority of beachgoers observed social distancing under the watchful eye of sheriff deputies who were patrolling Madeira Beach.
On Sunday, people were seen dancing, drinking and sharing a hookah on the deck of one yacht in Biscayne Bay in Miami.
Dozens more were seen waiting in a massive line near a marina in Miami, which is one of three epicenters of the virus in the state.
Large crowds packs the Florida beach just one week after reopening amid coronavirus enforched shutdown. Photo courtesy of NBC-2
The large crowds meant people were unable to keep a six feet distance from anyone else
Beaches across most of the state reopened last week except in South Florida but some beaches reopened back in April.
Meanwhile, barbershops, hair salons and nail salons prepared to reopen in much of the state Monday with workers being required to wear masks.
Gov DeSantis announced last Friday that they could reopen in every county except hard-hit Miami-Dade and Broward, which remain under tight restrictions.
The governor said he hopes Miami-Dade and Broward counties can start reopening businesses during the week of Memorial Day.
The shops will have to operate by appointment only and will have to spend 15 minutes after each customer disinfecting the station. They are being discouraged from allowing customers to wait inside.
Palm Beach County — the home of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort — will also start reopening its businesses next week.
Restaurants and shops in Palm Beach County can reopen provided they keep indoor capacity at 25 per cent starting May 18.
‘In order for Florida to come back, we need Palm Beach County in a leadership role,’ DeSantis said at a news conference in West Palm Beach.
‘It won’t happen overnight but this community is eager to move forward,’ said Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner.
With some of the nation’s most expensive houses, Palm Beach County is home to Mar-a-Lago, which serves as Trump’s refuge from Washington.
The president often spends his time there mixing work, business and pleasure in the company of dues-paying members. It has laid off 153 workers during the pandemic.
While Broward and Miami-Dade counties remain under restrictions, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Friday that some business in the county would be opening on May 18. He didn’t specify which businesses but suggested the reopening could include restaurants.
Broward Mayor Dale V.C. Holness is hosting a teleconference with city officials on Monday to discuss reopening.
On Sunday, Florida reported that about 40,596 coronavirus cases have been confirmed since the beginning of March and at least 1,721 people have died. Families are seen walking along Madeira Beach on Saturday
Thousands of people soaked up the sun during family visits to Madeira Beach on Saturday
Most beach goers observed social distancing under the watchful eye of Pinellas County Sheriff deputies who were patrolling the beach educating citizens of the social distancing rules
Dozens of boats were spotted on a sandbar near John’s Pass as thousands of people flocked to area beaches during the first weekend public beaches reopened after they were closed a few weeks ago in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19
In a survey completed by city leaders, most supported the opening of restaurants and retail businesses under the state’s guidelines, as well as allowing elective surgeries.
DeSantis also gave the green light to reopen hair salons, barbershops and nail salons Monday under new safety guidelines for most of Florida.
The order does not include Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The governor made the announcement on Twitter late Friday via a video message from J. Henry, who owns a barber shop in Orlando.
‘We are ready to get back to work and make some money,’ Henry said in the video, adding that salon employees would be wearings gloves and masks. ‘Safety is always first.’
No other details about the additional safety protocol were immediately released.
Last week, most of Florida’s Democratic congressional delegation urged DeSantis, a Republican, not to loosen restrictions meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus until he can put in place adequate testing, contact tracing and the ability to isolate sick residents.
The US lawmakers said in a letter to the governor that Floridians would be at risk without those measures in place as businesses that have been closed because of the pandemic start to reopen.
‘While we fully recognize the tremendous burden placed on the economy by stay-at-home orders and closed businesses, we urge you to prioritize the health and safety of Floridians above all else,’ the letter said.
Fearless sun seekers didn’t waste any time adjusting to the ‘new normal’ just a week after Florida initiated phase one of its reopening process
The group also appeared to be drinking as they enjoyed their boat ride on Saturday
‘A rushed reopening may very well serve only to increase the human loss caused by an already historic public health crisis, as states moving forward with reopening are seeing increases in new COVID-19 cases.’
DeSantis defended his approach on Friday as ‘safe, smart’.
‘We are being deliberate,’ DeSantis said. ‘We are being methodical about this because we want to do this the right way.’
At a news conference in northeast Florida, DeSantis also announced that infected patients from long-term facilities who do not require hospitalization could be cared for at a skilled nursing facility in Jacksonville.
He said that will help prevent infected elders from spreading the disease to others in their facility.
The governor also defended the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying state officials acted to stay ahead of infections by aggressively seeking to stem the spread of the virus across the state’s elder care facilities.
According to records released by state officials, there have been more than 1,400 infected long-term care residents across 424 long-term care facilities as of May 1.
More than 400 have died, according to those records.
‘We acted decisively early on to protect long-term care facilities,’ the governor said.
DeSantis said that included sending nearly 10 million masks, 1 million gloves and 500,000 face shields to long-term care facilities, as well as establishing what he called ‘strike teams’ to do surveillance testing at the facilities.
But the data released by state officials have come under scrutiny because some of the data do not square with other available information.