Here we go again.
As of yesterday, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases throughout Florida, officials have announced that various beaches will be closed and off-limits to ocean-goers and surfers in the following counties for the July 4th weekend: Miami-Dade, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Monroe County and Collier County. The move comes as an effort to curb further spread of the virus and to prevent a potential influx of visitors and unnecessary gatherings during a normally busy holiday. According to Florida Today, The Florida Department of Health reported 5,266 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the sixth consecutive day in which at least 5,000 new cases have been announced, and 28 more deaths.
Last Friday, state officials also put a ban on alcohol consumption at bars after the recent surge in cases after the state’s reopening. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis noted in a press conference that in such businesses there was “widespread noncompliance” and the tossing aside of safety guidelines.
“It has invariably been because they packed so many people in and created a type of environment that we are trying to avoid,” DeSantis said. “Caution was thrown to the wind and so we are where we are.”
Some beaches in the aforementioned counties will be closed effective Friday, July 3, through Monday night, July 6 (although be sure to check here as each county will have different rules). There will also be a ban on gatherings over 50 people (specifically in Miami-Dade county), which includes parades and protests.
In Broward County, violators who attempt to access the beach could be subject to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail — or more. A quick look at the forecast for the area will hopefully deter those tempted to violate any orders.
On the west coast in Los Angeles, beach access will be banned in a similar attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Beginning Friday, July 3rd at 12:01 a.m, all beaches, piers, parking lots and beach access points in LA County will be off-limits to residents and visitors. Firework displays will also be forbidden.
The order in Los Angeles came on the heels of a sharp spike in COVID cases on Monday, with another 2,903 people testing positive — the highest ever reported in the county — alongside 22 new deaths.
“Closing the beaches and prohibiting fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but it’s the responsible decision to protect public health and protect our residents from a deadly virus. The Fourth of July holiday weekend typically means large crowds and gatherings to celebrate, a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health in a press release. “We all need to take this virus more seriously and residents and business owners must do their part. Physical distancing isn’t optional, wearing a face covering isn’t optional, spending time only with those you live with isn’t optional — these are requirements in the Health Officer Order and are the tools we have to protect each other, our families and those most vulnerable in our communities.”