Popular beaches in South Florida will close for the Fourth of July weekend as coronavirus concerns, and cases, continue to grow.
Officials across three counties — Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach — have announced shut downs, citing the rising cases of the novel coronavirus.
“As we continue to see more COVID-19 positive test results among young adults and rising hospitalizations, I have decided that the only prudent thing to do to tamp down this recent uptick is to crack down on recreational activities that put our overall community at higher risk,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R) said in a statement.
Beaches, under his order, will be closed Friday, July 3 through Tuesday, July 7. The public will also be barred from flocking to parks or beaches to view the fireworks.
“The closure may be extended if conditions do not improve and people do not follow New Normal rules requiring masks to be worn always inside commercial establishments and outdoors when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible,” the mayor warned in a statement, adding the government will be “forced to step in and restore common sense to save lives” if people do not heed to the “lifesaving rules,” which limiting gatherings, encourage social distancing, and require masks in certain settings.
His order also restricts large gatherings of people — 50 or more — for “whatever reason.”
“The Miami-Dade County Police Department will continue to be out in force this weekend to close establishments that are flaunting the social distancing and masks rules and capacity limits,” he added. “Violators face a second-degree criminal penalty of up to $500 and 180 days in jail. ”
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis (D), alongside fellow beach town mayors, also announced that their beaches will follow suit, closing July 3 through July 5.
“The reason why we’re doing this is because we feel that we will not be able to provide the necessary safe environment that everyone is entitled to enjoy when they come to our beaches,” he said:
Mayor @DeanTrantalis to host a media briefing at 4:30 pm today at A1A and Las Olas regarding the upcoming closure of beaches from July 3rd through July 5th. https://t.co/iXEhj2hJwU pic.twitter.com/gdVmJQSmRy
— City of Fort Lauderdale (@FTLCityNews) June 28, 2020
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner (D) announced on Sunday that the county will follow suit.
“I’ve given direction to the county administrator to prepare an order that will close all beaches in Palm Beach County Thursday through Sunday,” Kerner told WPTV NewsChannel 5.
Monroe County officials on Monday also decided that they will close beaches beginning 5 p.m. Thursday and reopen Tuesday, July 7.
The news comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the Sunshine State, breaking single-day records last week through the weekend.
South Florida has been hit particularly hard by the virus, as Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach account for over 43 percent of the state’s overall caseload.
Florida has reported146,341 positive cases since March 1, according to Monday’s results from the Florida Department of Health.