MARCH 30, 2020 | 5:39 P.M. | TREASURE COAST–In his news conference yesterday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis explained his decision not to close down the beaches.
“We did an order, no gatherings on beaches, 10 or more. So what you’ve seen now is a lot of the sheriffs’ departments have instituted protocols. I had the Brevard sheriff, he had his deputies on ATVs. They had a boat going down the coast and they’re telling people you’ve got to disburse. Cocoa Beach, major spring break destination, went down 70 percent since my order.
“I think that’s a more prudent approach, to do social distancing. I just spoke to the U.S. surgeon general about it. Here’s the thing. They want you to social distance, of course. But they actually encourage people to get fresh air.
“They just don’t want you congregating in big groups. And so if you have a Floridian that goes and walks their dog, like a married couple on the beach, as long as you’re not within six feet of each other, they view that as a healthy thing.
“So I think it’s important to allow that if the local communities want to do it, to be able to do it.
“We’re also in a situation where we have counties who have no community spread. We have some counties that don’t have a single positive test yet. And so, I don’t want to be in a situation where we’re diverting people unwittingly into activities that are going to be more dangerous for passing the virus.
“But I’ve stood by every local community — Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale — we’re backing them. [Miami-Dade] Mayor [Carlos] Gimenez just did it. That’s great if that’s good for them. But I also think we’re going to be in a situation where if people are able to go out and be spaced out — so, these are not spring [breakers].
“These are our neighbors who may need to go out there, clear their head. Because a lot of people are on edge right now. And this is going to be obviously a physical challenge with the virus, but I think it’s really weighing on a lot of people.
“And I just, I want the localities to have an outlet available if they think that that makes sense. But since I issued my directive, anybody who’s put that in place — spring break’s done. Any place to go for bars and all this — done. They do’’t have a place to go.”