Jacksonville Beach in Florida has been reopened, and a live cam on the scene gives anyone who wants it a scenic view. The beach was one of several in Florida to reopen on Friday evening at the order of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Some see the livestream of the beach as a triumphant sight, though others are condemning those gathering on the beach in real time.
The Jacksonville Beach livestream was set up by local TV station First Coast News this weekend, which is associated with both NBC and ABC. It has a steady view of of a long stretch of white sand leading to rolling blue waves, with people in groups milling about all over. It also shows a long pier, occasionally visited by a few pedestrians. Jacksonville Beach is reportedly requiring large groups to practice social distancing, though many critics say this is not enough to make them safe.
"I think people, they're gonna be responsible, they’re gonna be safe, but they want to get back into a routine," DeSantis said on Saturday, according to a report by The Daily Beast. He allowed several beaches on the peninsula to reopen, arguing that people in his state need "fresh air." The beaches are reportedly open for "essential activities," including various forms of exercise, while activities are sunbathing are supposed to be prohibited.
How those prohibitions will be enforced remains to be seen, as the livestream seems to show many people not engaged in active exercise. On social media, photos and videos showed people playing volleyball together, eating and apparently just enjoying the weather, in many cases. No police were in sight.
Some proponents of the reopened beaches defended them by saying that they are not so different from state and national parks, hiking trails and other outdoor spaces being used for exercise right now. However, critics fired back, in some cases saying that those places should be closed as well.
DeSantis did announce this week that Florida public schools will be remain closed for the rest of the school year. His announcements followed the state's highest confirmed mortality rate in for a single day on Tuesday — 72 people passed away from coronavirus in just 24 hours. Some Florida mayors and other local officials spoke out against DeSantis' reopening of beaches this weekend.
"When a person doesn't believe in science, they do dumb things," tweeted Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Omari Hardy. "When a person in power doesn't believe in science, they do dumb things that hurt the public. This move is so dumb that I had to make sure it wasn't fake news. You guys, it isn't fake news."
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