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Floridians Take To Social Media With Beach Closure Frustrations In Midst Of Coronavirus Crisis

An aerial picture of Clearwater Beach.
Pinellas County Marketing and Communications
A stock photo of Clearwater Beach, along with all public beaches in Pinellas county.

It’s hard to gauge just how many people are on Florida beaches today, but the sentiment across social media platforms is the same: locals are furious at both the spring breakers and government officials.

While Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will not forcefully close public beaches due to COVID-19 concerns, several cities and counties have taken the initiative to do so, including Pinellas County, which closes its beaches Friday by midnight.

A tweet complaining about the state's decision to not close all beaches, leaving it up to cities and counties.

The Clearwater City Council voted Wednesday 4-1 to close public beaches for two weeks over fears of coronavirus starting Monday, but was superseded by the county.

After videos went viral earlier this week of what were mostly college students packing Clearwater Beach, people have taken to Facebook and Twitter to call the state's hesitation to close beaches “reckless and irresponsible," with condemnations of spring breakers not sticking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that all parties remain at least six feet apart.

Several tweets described Florida beaches as a “petri dish” for the coronavirus to thrive and spread.

Clearwater Beach is one of the only beaches in Florida that stays open 24 hours.

It also is a popular spot for spring breakers, with as many as 30,000 people visiting daily.

Pinellas County beaches close by midnight today, against the recommendation of Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who said closing the beaches would lead to people congregating elsewhere in smaller spaces, where the virus is more easily spread.

He also said hotels and other businesses along the beach asked them not to shut down access.

Credit Screenshot of a comment from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
While social media posts overwhelmingly encouraged state officials to shut down all Florida beaches, there were some dissenters.

While social media posts overwhelmingly encouraged state officials to shut down all Florida beaches, there were some dissenters, especially on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Facebook page.

Sarasota County beaches will be closed by 6 a.m. Saturday, and Anna Marie Island’s beaches have already closed.

Beaches in Tampa, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale have also already been closed by local emergency orders.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.