Mayors heckled for decision to close Florida beaches on July 4 weekend

Florida reopening beaches amid coronavirus pandemic

South Florida is the state’s most popular summer destination

All the beaches of South Florida will be closed during one of the most popular holidays of the year as the state grapples with a surging number of new coronavirus cases.

The mayors of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, along with other local city leaders along the East Coast, held a press conference Sunday to announce the shutdown that will begin on Friday and last through the Fourth of July weekend.

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But their show of solidarity was met with anger as residents in attendance heckled the panel.

"Freedom," "Socialism," "This is America," and "Don't shoot!" people yelled at the mayors, according to CNN. One of the mayors had to yell to be heard over the shouting crowd.

There was no word yet on whether the state’s other popular beaches in the Keys, Emerald Coast, Southwest Florida or Treasure Coast would follow suit.

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For now the decision to shutter the beaches of South Florida — the state's most popular tourist destination — comes as the Florida Department of Health reported 8,530 new coronavirus cases in the state on Sunday. On Saturday, the state reported 9,585 new coronavirus cases, a single-day record high since the beginning of the pandemic, CNN reported.

The Miami area has the most new cases in the state.

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In Miami-Dade County the closures will extend beyond the weekend, with all beaches and parks closed from Friday through Tuesday. Depending on conditions, the beach could remain closed indefinitely, according to Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who also mandated masks and social distancing and limited gatherings to no more than 50 people.

Beaches in Broward County, meanwhile, will close from Friday until Sunday. On Monday, Broward Mayor Dale V.C. Holness announced a new emergency order closing beaches from Friday until Sunday.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said: “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 added that the area’s restaurants, retail shops will remain open during the beach shutdown.

 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attributed the rise in cases to a backlog of testing and to socializing among young people who ignored social distancing guidelines.