The premature reopening of Florida beaches is yet another example of a lack of competent leadership in Florida.
On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis gave local municipalities the ability to reopen their beaches provided they maintain social distancing guidelines.
Encouraging social distancing on our beaches while allowing large crowds to accumulate there is a plan destined to fail. It shows a fundamentally inadequate response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
In a time where public places like restaurant dining rooms and state parks are closed, it doesn’t make any sense to open Florida’s beaches. It is unrealistic to expect that beachgoers would continually jog on the beaches at 6 feet apart and never come in contact with other people. Enforcing social distancing guidelines with such a large crowd of people would be exceedingly difficult.
Few municipalities have taken the opportunity to reopen their beaches, but the ones that have reopened could attract visitors, raising the chance of beachgoers spreading the virus much further than one city or county.
While there are no estimates yet of how many people are visiting these beaches, even the possibility is unacceptable.
This move from DeSantis makes him one of the first public officials to allow these public gatherings, after being one of the last governors to issue a stay-at-home order.
Among the cities that have decided to put their populations at risk are Mexico Beach and Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry explained on Thursday in a statement released on social media that the order is only for those, “participating in recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing.”
These guidelines almost perfectly encapsulate what happens on a beach regardless. It is unlikely that Jacksonville has the resources to police the distance between every person visiting the beach.
It’s unfortunate that certain municipalities have made such a reckless decision, but what’s worse is that this decision was enabled by the governor.
DeSantis has already shown carelessness by lagging in his response to COVID-19. It seems as if he is worsening that behavior.
Jared Sellick is a senior majoring in political science.