KEY POINTS

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered only groups of 10 will be allowed at beaches across the state
  • Businesses serving alcohol will also be required to cut allowed occupancy in half to adhere with CDC guidelines
  • Local mayors have threatened fines and arrests to anyone found in violation of DeSantis' order

Florida has begun clamping down on popular spring break beaches as part of the state’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, though they remain open to a limited number of visitors.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an order Tuesday that limited groups visiting Florida’s various beaches to 10 people and requires any businesses serving alcohol to cut occupancy in half. By Wednesday, Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach authorities had reportedly set up barricades along the beachfronts to help limit access. Local police were also monitoring the beaches to break up any large crowds not following the order.

As of Wednesday, Florida has 192 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five deaths.

“What we're going to be doing for the statewide floor for beaches, we're going to be applying the CDC guidance of no group on a beach more than 10 and you have to have distance apart if you're going to be out there,” DeSantis told reporters. “So that applies statewide.”

Local mayors echoed DeSantis’ statements, with some saying they would issue fines to anyone found in violation of the order. Arresting violators also hasn’t been ruled out.

“Closing our public beaches was without precedent, but necessary,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters.

One visitor described it as "weird" to walk around a mostly deserted Miami Beach.

“It’s so weird, we didn’t think it was going to get this bad,” Drexel University student Jay Jones, 22, told Reuters. “At least I’m still in warm weather though, so whatever, I’ll just hang out in the hotel and flex. I’m staying for the rest of my trip.”

DeSantis still expressed some hesitance at closing the beaches completely, though. He said it wasn’t “uniform throughout the state that you're seeing massive crowds at beaches.”

However, DeSantis’ statements followed a weekend where several beaches across Florida were still bustling with families and spring breakers. Images and videos of the busy beaches made their way online, showing the lack of thought given to the health experts’ recommendation to practice safe social distancing.

Miami Beach Miami Beach tourists Vinnie Miliano (L) and Erin McGrath spend a day on the beach in Miami, Florida, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Getty Images