#FloridaMorons trends as people swarm reopened Florida beaches, defy social distancing amid rising COVID-19 cases

State Governor Ron DeSantis, as well as Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, favored the reopening even as April 17 witnessed the highest jump in confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day

                            #FloridaMorons trends as people swarm reopened Florida beaches, defy social distancing amid rising COVID-19 cases
People flocked to a Jacksonville Beach, Florida, after the authorities eased the restrictions with caution since Friday, April 17 (Getty Images)

More and more people have decided to defy the lockdown measures imposed by governments around the world. Last week, protesters came out on the streets in a number of states in the US after President Donald Trump gave a call to ‘liberate’ states after his tug-of-war with governors turned ugly over the last few weeks. In Minnesota, lockdown protesters assembled before the residence of Governor Tim Walz on Friday, April 17, demanding reopening of the economy as that has crippled lives of millions of Americans. 

On Sunday, April 19, thousands of people went to the reopened beaches of Florida that were shut earlier because of the pandemic and it sparked a controversy with #FloridaMorons trending on Twitter. 

Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis recently gave the nod to some beaches and parks to reopen provided safety standards are maintained even as the southeastern state last Friday, April 17, witnessed its maximum rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19 (1,421) in a single day. The Sunshine State has nearly 26,000 cases of coronavirus and over 750 deaths. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with President Donald Trump (Getty Images)

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, also a Republican, said the beaches at Duval County were reopened on Friday, April 17,  with restricted hours. He said the beach-goers are only allowed to walk, hike, fish, bike, surf, swim, run and take care of their pets while they spend time on the beaches. Thousands were seen enjoying their time on the beaches for three days in a row in the weekend, prompting one to say on Twitter: "Life’s a beach -- then you die.”

Curry warned that the plug will be pulled again if things ran helter-skelter. He said he was allowing people to go to the Duval County beaches because he is ‘encouraged’ by the evidence that the curve is flattening. “This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” he said on Thursday, April 16, before the reopening came. “Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors.” Activities like sunbathing, overnight camping and forming groups of more than 10 people were banned. 

Jacksonville’s beaches will remain open daily between 6 am and 11 am and 5 pm and 8 pm. 

People hit back at the decision

The decision faced a backlash, nonetheless. Several people spoke up on Twitter voicing concerns over the reopening of beaches at a time when the US is still coping with high rates of infection and deaths. Over 758,000 people have been hit in the country so far by the deadly virus while more than 40,000 have lost their lives. 
“Can't we just spatial distance this whole State? #FloridaMoron,” one said on Twitter

Another wrote: “I understand the push to get back to work. We all have bills to pay. I don't remotely get the rush to the beaches in some sort of childish own-the-libs hissy fit. Especially since engaging in this behavior endangers being able to get back to work. #FloridaMoron.”

Another warned Governor DeSantis saying he will regret opening in a few weeks when the state’s hospitals will be overwhelmed by a further outbreak. Another mocked people saying they were trying to get a little sun so that they look healthy at their funeral

On Thursday, April 16, Trump spoke about a three-phase plan for reopening the states one by one if they displayed a slowing down of the cases. The guidelines, though, stopped short of specifying the ways to handle outdoor spaces like parks and beaches. 

It is not the first time that Florida’s authorities have drawn flak over their handling of the pandemic. Earlier, state officials, including DeSantis, were slammed for not shutting down the beaches during the spring break. Last month, photos surfaced showing a large number of people enjoying on the beaches and defying the social-distancing advice, prompting the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo to utter words like “unintelligent” and “reckless”

Santa Cruz in California also eased restrictions to allow surfing for the first time since the lockdown was implemented.