Several counties in South Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe (home to the Florida Keys) are closing their beaches for the July 4th holiday weekend as part of a statewide effort to get control over the state’s spiking COVID-19 infection rate.
The Florida Department of Health reported 5,266 new confirmed cases of COVID Monday, the sixth consecutive day in which at least 5,000 new cases have been announced, and 28 more deaths, according to Florida Today, part of the USA TODAY network.
The state now has more than 146,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 3,400 deaths. The cases have more than doubled since Florida entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan on June 5.
“Caution was thrown to the wind and so we are where we are,” Gov. Ron DeSantis remarked during a press conference Sunday.
Here’s what you need to know:
Beach closure dates: 12:01 a.m. EDT, Friday, July 3 to 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 6
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez announced Friday that he was closing his county’s coastline which includes Miami Beach, South Beach, Sunny Isles. The closure will be in effect from Friday, July 3, through Monday night, July 6, the order states.
There will also be a ban on gatherings over 50 people, including parades and protests. County parks will close at 8 p.m. EDT during that period and fireworks displays must be viewed from home or a parked car.
Gimenez warned that county police will be out “in force” over the weekend shutting down establishments that refuse to obey Miami-Dade’s social-distancing and mask policies. “Violators face a second-degree criminal penalty of up to $500 and 180 days in jail,” he added.
Gimenez also cautioned, “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 six feet is not possible.”
Beach closure dates: 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 3, to 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 5
“In light of the recent increase in positive reported cases of COVID-19
within our County and the State of Florida, and the upcoming temporary closure of the beaches in Miami-Dade County, the County Administrator finds it necessary to close Broward County beaches for the Fourth of July holiday weekend,” reads the order, issued Monday.
Violators are subject to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail, though anyone who knowingly commits a “violation that is irreparable or irreversible in nature” could face fines of $1,000 per day or up to $15,000 per incident.
Fort Lauderdale had already taken its own action one day earlier.
“The sand will be closed for visitors, tourists and locals from Friday, July 3, through Sunday, July 5,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis announced Sunday during a press conference.
“Everyone should be able to come our beaches and enjoy the beautiful sun and water and all the beautiful things we have here in Broward County but unfortunately, during a normal holiday weekend, it’s very difficult for us to enforce all the required CDC protocols. We’re working together with all the beaches in Broward County, all the mayors of the coastal beaches. It’s important to understand that we’re all working together to keep our environment safe.”
Trantalis added that businesses would remain open (though the state will only allow stand-alone bars to sell alcoholic drinks to go) and that the county may close down one lane of the A1A highway to allow people to walk near the beach.
Palm Beach County officials said beaches will be closed this weekend but as of midday Monday, no notice was yet posted on the county website, reported The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Mayor Dave Kerner told CNN on Sunday that he expected to issue the order Monday. “Unfortunately, this Fourth of July will not be spent at the beach,” he said in the interview.
Beach closure dates: 5 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 2 to Tuesday, July 7
On Monday, Monroe County, which encompasses the Florida Keys, issued a press release saying all public parks and beaches there would close as well. beginning Thursday at 5 p.m. until opening time on Tuesday.
Masks are also required for anyone over the age of six in all public settings and businesses in the Florida Keys where there is a roof overhead.
According to USA TODAY Network outlet The Naples Daily News, officials in Collier County, the southwest Florida region which includes Naples, are scheduled to meet Tuesday to decide how to handle beach access there.
Brevard County, the east-central region that includes Cocoa Beach and Melbourne Beach, said on its website that it also has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday. USA TODAY has reached out for comment about its plans for the holiday weekend.
Lee County, home to Fort Myers, has decided to keep its beaches open, The Fort Myers News-Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported.
County spokeswoman Betsy Clayton said in an email that the county has created signs asking visitors to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and to wear masks in all public areas to prevent the spread of the virus.
Contributing: Holly Baltz, Palm Beach Post; Patrick Riley and Brittany Carloni, Naples Daily News, Associated Press