While schools, businesses, and public events are all closed or canceled, Mayor Lenny Curry on Friday gave the green light for recreational activities that follow social distancing guidelines.
Floridians flocked to the coast in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday after Mayor Lenny Curry gave the order to reopen beaches and parks amid the pandemic. Within minutes of reopening at 5 p.m., beaches were flooded with crowds of beachgoers reportedly cheering as they ran out onto the sand after weeks of lockdown. The state recorded the highest one-day increase in positive cases the same day, with the Florida Department of Health revealing that confirmed cases in the state rose by 1,421 on Friday. As photos and videos of Jacksonville's crowded beaches went viral on social media, netizens criticized the seemingly apparent lack of concern about the pandemic.
Jacksonville Beach reopened 26 minutes ago. This is a live picture. pic.twitter.com/tC6voQ3BAn— Travis Akers (@travisakers) April 17, 2020
According to CBS News, Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, and Atlantic Beach are now open in the state from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for "essential activities." The beaches will be closed during all other times. As of Sunday, the total number of cases in Florida had reached 26,306, reports The New York Times, adding that the state has recorded 773 deaths related to the virus. While schools, businesses, and public events are all closed or canceled to curb the spread of the virus, Curry has given the green light for recreational activities that follow social distancing guidelines.
I live in Florida and I don't want to die!— Ms. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) April 18, 2020
Yesterday we had the highest number of new cases of COVID-19, and what does GOP Governor DeSantis do? He opens beaches!
I just don't want to die. I don't want my friends or family to die!
Is that too much to ask for GOP?#FloridaMorons
The Mayor said that activities such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets, and surfing are considered essential and that they do not contradict Governor Ron DeSantis' executive order. However, activities such as sunbathing, grilling, and congregating in large groups are prohibited. "This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life. Please respect and follow these limitations," said Curry. "Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors."
It’s fitting that this CNN footage of the shitshow today on Jacksonville Beach literally featured a dog taking a big, nasty dump. pic.twitter.com/ukumFHj47D— Come Hell Or Bywater (@HellOrBywater) April 18, 2020
"What we're trying to do is maintain a scenario where we're not crowding the beach. We still have to be cognizant of the six-foot distance between people. And we're looking to keep people from just accumulating out here. First, we inform people what the rules are," Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham told reporters Friday. "Then we warn if they don't comply. And then we take additional action, if necessary, if they still don't comply." However, photos of the Jacksonville beaches show hundreds of residents walking, swimming, and talking in large groups.
As images of the crowded beaches hit social media, netizens slammed the state's seemingly laidback approach to the pandemic with the hashtag #FloridaMorons. Florida reopened some beaches today & they were packed. I guess in a way it makes perfect Florida-sense. To try to get a little sun so you look healthy at your funeral, tweeted Bette Midler. Dear intelligent people in Florida who are staying the fuck at home when possible: we see you. Every state has its own version of #FloridaMorons and we hope you manage to survive their stupidity, wrote Twitter user @stealthbadger.
In 1918 Philadelphia ended quarantine from Spanish Flu early & had parade to boost morale.Within days all hospital beds in the city was filled & in short order more than 4,500 people died.— Sofia Clarck (@ClarckSofia) April 19, 2020
Those who cannot learn from the past are doomed to repeat it#FloridaMoron #StayatHome pic.twitter.com/yvA1v6Ui4C
#FloridaMoron Wasn't there a movie about a stupid politicians and their dumbass supporters who insisted on opening the beaches despite the warnings of people much smarter than him? pic.twitter.com/A6ohOp95vb— INNOCENT KING OF POP (@teelawon4ever) April 19, 2020
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, tweeted @BeaglesResist. This isn't the first time Florida faced backlash during the crisis as state officials—including—DeSantis faced heavy criticism for not closing the beaches during spring break in the early days of the pandemic. In light of recent events, Mayor Latham stated: "If we have to close the beach again, we'll do it. Safety is still our top priority." Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser added: "This not a time to lounge. This is not a time to party. This is a time to exercise and keep moving."