As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, Floridians hoping to celebrate on sandy beaches are going to have to go elsewhere. Over the weekend, officials announced that beaches in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach — locations popular with both locals and tourists — will be temporarily closed for the July 4th holiday weekend in response to the rapidly climbing coronavirus cases in the state.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez was the first to announce temporary closures of all beaches and parks on Friday. In a statement, he said that he came to the decision "after consulting with our County's public health experts." The closures will begin on Friday, July 3 and continue through Tuesday, July 7, though Gimenez warned the closures could be extended if cases continue to rise and if people don’t follow rules designed to help slow the spread of the virus, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
Just days later, several other cities followed suit, with the city of Fort Lauderdale announcing in a Sunday tweet that Broward County beaches would be closed from July 3 through July 5. During a news conference, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said that he and all mayors of the county's beach communities as well as the Broward County mayor had collaborated on the plan and explained that "the reason why we're doing this is because we feel that we will not be able to provide the necessary safe environment that everyone is entitled to enjoy when they come to our beaches," according to CNN. He confirmed that despite the beach closures, businesses would remain open.
Also on Sunday, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner told CNN that he would be issuing an order on Monday "that will close the Palm Beach County beaches throughout the entirety of the county for the holiday weekend." Kerner cited concern for "public health." He did not specify how long the closures would last.
The decision to temporarily close beaches over the holiday weekend comes as the nation as a whole sees a drastic spike in confirmed coronavirus cases. By Monday morning, a Johns Hopkins database had reported that cases in the U.S. had surpassed 2.5 million. Florida, meanwhile, has seen record spikes in cases multiple days in a row, with 8,530 new reported on Sunday and 9,585 new on Saturday, a number that a single-day record-high. As of this posting, Florida has more than 140,000 confirmed cases, with the Miami area being especially hard-hit.