Floridians Crowd Local Beaches Over Memorial Day Weekend (PHOTOS)
Sun and fun during a pandemic...
The world is currently dealing with a pandemic. However, you might not have known it if you visited one of Florida's beaches this Memorial Day Weekend. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic still not under wraps, many Floridians packed the sands and hit the beaches to beat the heat.
Memorial Day normally marks the first day of summer, and many beaches in the state, from the Panhandle to Naples, showed that a virus outbreak couldn't dim their fun.
In Pinellas County in the Tampa Bay area, beaches reached their maximum capacities quickly, prompting the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office to close off over 70 access points, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Things were a bit more unruly 161 miles away in Daytona Beach on Florida's East Coast. There, hundreds of beachgoers packed the city's beach walk and State Road A1A.
"We got slammed,"Sheriff Mike Chitwood said during a press conference on Sunday. "Disney is closed, Universal is closed. Everything is closed so where did everybody come with the first warm day with 50% opening? Everybody came to the beach."
The large scene in Daytona Beach promoted numerous panicked phone calls to 911 from scared residents, as stated in a report by Orlando CBS affiliate WKMG.
Even some families who were staying at hotels on the beach had to move out. "One hotel had 26 families move out," Daytona Beach Shores Council Member Billie Wheeler told WKMG.
While most beaches across the state were open for Memorial Day revelers,. Only Boca Raton and Delray Beach in Palm Beach County were open in time for Memorial Day. Miami-Dade County is looking to reopen its beaches on June 1, and Broward County's will open on May 26.*
Despite signs of normalcy in Florida, the state is not completely out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic.
On May 24, the state added 740 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 50,867, with 2,237 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Residents and visitors are still strongly advised to adhere to all social distancing protocols to slow down the spread of the virus, per CDC guidelines.
The health institute continues to recommend locals keep a six-feet distance, wear a mask if they're not able to socially distance, and wash their hands regularly.
*This article has been updated.