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Hundreds swarm Florida beaches following reopening amid pandemic

 

Hundreds of people swarmed Florida's beaches Saturday, just one day after Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTrump's new interest in water resources — why now? Trump campaign says it didn't hire armed guards outside Florida polling place Trump jokes he'll 'find a way' to fire Gov. DeSantis if he loses Florida MORE (R) announced they would be allowed to open at local leaders' discretion.

Images of people flocking to beaches in the Jacksonville, Fla., area went viral on Twitter on Saturday, prompting backlash from users on the platform and the hashtag "#FloridaMorons." 

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DeSantis on Friday allowed cities with beachfronts to begin opening their beaches at their own discretion. The same day, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry (R) announced that Duval County’s beaches would reopen. 

However, the easing of restrictions still banned people from bringing towels and chairs — to prevent large congregations — and limited the hours. People are encouraged to go on walks or swim and remain six feet or farther apart from one another to maintain social distancing. 

“This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” Curry said. “Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors.”

Despite images of populated beaches shared online Saturday, Curry tweeted an image of a clear beach in his city, thanking residents for their “social distancing and responsible behavior.”

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Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said during a Saturday news conference that his county would also move forward with reopening beaches but didn’t say when that would happen.

DeSantis also announced Saturday that K-12 schools in the state will be closed for the remainder of the academic year due to the pandemic. 

Florida was one of the last states to implement a stay-at-home order. As of Saturday, the Florida Department of Health has reported more than 25,000 coronavirus cases and 740 deaths.