Sunbathers flocked to Florida’s Cocoa Beach on Thursday after it reopened to allow chairs and blankets on the sand.
Families were seen laden down with backpacks, beach towels and coolers, while friends stripped down to their swimsuits to soak up some Vitamin D following the lifting of restrictions that were implemented on April 2.
Cocoa Beach and neighboring Satellite Beach, which also reopened Thursday, are requiring that sun-seekers still practice social distancing and keep groups to a number smaller than five.
Both beaches are located in Brevard County, which has more than 220 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 7 reported deaths.
Sunbathers flocked to Florida’s Cocoa Beach on Thursday after it reopened to allow chairs and blankets on the sand
Families were seen laden down with backpacks, beach towels and coolers at the reopened Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach and neighboring Satellite Beach, which also reopened Thursday, are requiring that sun-seekers still practice social distancing
The beaches are located halfway between Florida’s two largest cities – Miami and Jacksonville – which are both handling the coronavirus outbreak very differently
Miami, 200 miles to the south, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 15,000 confirmed cases in the area. The city’s famous beaches remained closed for the forseeable future.
However, in Jacksonville, 200 miles to the north of Cocoa Beach, beaches were reopened last Friday.
Despite being the largest city in Florida, Jacksonville has only recorded 909 cases of coronavirus – about 4% of the state’s total cases.
Those stats prompted officials to allow the beaches to reopen from 6- 11 am and 5- 8pm for residents to walk, swim and fish.
However, sunbathing at Jacksonville beaches is still prohibited.
One sunseeker looked delighted to be able to open out her chair at Cocoa Beach Thursday
One Floridian was seen taking precautions as she strolled across the sands of Cocoa Beach- wearing a protective covering across her face
Groups of beach goers kept a social distance between each other at Cocoa Beach
A lifeguard kept a watchful eye on Cocoa Beach Thursday. Sunseekers generally obeyed social distancing guidelines as they spent time on the sand
Beaches that have opened or are set to open in Florida
According to the following list compiled by the Miami Herald, the following beaches that were closed are now either open or scheduled to reopen in Florida, with varying time and activity restrictions:
- Flagler County on Florida’s East Coast reopened for limited recreational activities on Wednesday, NBC 6 reported.
- Bay County beaches in Florida’s Panhandle will open Friday, April 24, with restricted hours of 6 a.m.-9 a.m. and 5 p.m.-8 p.m., WJHG 7 reported. Bay County includes Panama City Beach, a popular spot for spring breakers.
- Gulf County beaches opened at 5 p.m. Wednesday with the same hours that neighboring Bay County will enforce.
- Okaloosa County will open its beaches on May 1 from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. It’s home to Destin, a popular beach resort.
- Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach in Brevard County are open with social distancing rules intact, Florida Today reported.
However, despite the sunbathing ban, photos showing scores of residents descending upon Jacksonville beaches sparked outrage and prompted the hashtag #FloridaMorons to trend on social media.
‘Can’t we just spatial distance this whole State? #FloridaMoron,’ one user tweeted.
Another person wrote: ‘Life’s a beach–then you die. #FloridaMoron.’
A third user tweeted: ‘I understand the push to get back to work. We all have bills to pay. I don’t remotely get the rush to the beaches in some sort of childish own-the-libs hissy fit. Especially since engaging in this behavior endangers being able to get back to work. #FloridaMoron.’
While Myrtle Beach in South Carolina has also reopened for sunbathers, most beaches in coastal states remained closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Drone footage captured on Thursday shows miles of empty sand along the beaches of Ocean City, Maryland.
The city closed its beaches and boardwalks on March 22, and have no immediate plans to reopen them.
Across the country more than 850,000 Americans have tested positive to COVID-19, and more than 40,000 have died.
Scores of residents descending upon Jacksonville beaches sparked outrage and prompted the hashtag #FloridaMorons to trend on social media.Busy Jacksonville Beach is pictured Sunday
Different state, different story! Drone footage captured on Thursday shows miles of empty sand along the beaches of Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City closed its beaches and boardwalks on March 22, and have no immediate plans to reopen them
An empty water park in Ocean City, Maryland is pictured