Florida governor Ron DeSantis told Fox News Wednesday morning that the “party’s over” for spring breakers who’ve descended on Florida beaches in defiance of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for “socialist distancing,” and that, while there has been no official order from the Florida state government closing beaches, most beaches are closed to the public and all bars and most restaurants are shuttered until further notice.
“The message I think for spring breakers is that the party’s over in Florida, you’re not going to be able to congregate on any beach in the state,” DeSantis told the network. “Many of the hot spots that people like to go to, whether it’s Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Clearwater Beach, are closed entirely for the time being.”
“The bars are closed so you’re not going to have a place to congregate there, so we would just tell those folks maybe come back next year when things are better, but that is not what we’re looking for here in the state of Florida,” DeSantis added. “Every single beach will have to abide by the CDC guidelines, no more than 10 people, you have to be socially distant, not every beach is going to remain open, but some will.”
DeSantis’ comments come in response to a CBS News video that went viral on Tuesday, showing spring breakers in Miami openly flouding CDC guidelines and partying as normal, despite the threat of coronavirus.
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying,” a now-famous spring breaker told CBS News.
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I'm not gonna let it stop me from partying”: Spring breakers are still flocking to Miami, despite coronavirus warnings. https://t.co/KoYKI8zNDH pic.twitter.com/rfPfea1LrC
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 18, 2020
In response, Miami-Dade county ordered its beaches closed Wednesday morning, effective at 9am. Broward county says it will be patrolling its public beaches to ensure that no more than ten individuals are congregated in one area at one time, largely putting an end to partying on the eastern side of the state. Volusia county, home to Daytona beach, where the vast majority of spring breakers are located, says beaches there will remain open, but “social distancing” will be enforced. Stricter measures are on the table, per local media.
Tuesday night, DeSantis signed an order limiting beach capacity to ten individuals, but said he’d leave enforcement measures up to each county.
“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 in a signing ceremony for the bill, per NBC News. “So that applies statewide.”
DeSantis also tried to downplay reports that Florida beaches were “packed,” telling Fox that ,“I think some of those pictures were for people who had started coming down here before this got to the level that it did and so I think a lot of this stuff, you’re going to see a lot fewer people coming in to Florida right now.”
Florida is definitely feeling the impact of coronavirus. The state, which has a large population of elderly individuals, has had 328 reported cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths.