Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) refused to close down his state’s beaches in light of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday during a press conference, as spring breaker filled beaches go viral on social media.

He reasoned that people can use the beaches to get fresh air instead of being cooped up inside while social distancing.

“Here’s the thing. They want you to social distance, of course. But they actually encourage people to get fresh air,” DeSantis said. “They just don’t want you congregating in big groups. And so if you have a Floridian that goes and walks their dog, like a married couple on the beach, as long as you’re not within six feet of each other, they view that as a healthy thing.”

Critics have said that Florida’s beaches should be closed to limit spring breakers on vacation:

DeSantis argued that the college kids that are usually around have all gone home because the bars are closed.

“But since I issued my directive, anybody who’s put that in place — spring break’s done. Any place to go for bars and all this — done. They don’t have a place to go,” he said.

DeSantis also pointed to frat houses as the real problem area for college kids in large groups.

“But I would also say, what we’re finding is, when we did the universities, and we extended their time away for two weeks, we were thinking, don’t come back yet. Instead, they all went back, and they were drinking at the bars every night. So, then we shut the bars down. Well guess what they did then? They went to the fraternity houses and doing that.”

Several counties have taken matters into their own hands and closed their beaches, which DeSantis seemed to support.


“But I’ve stood by every local community — Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale — we’re backing them. [Miami-Dade] Mayor [Carlos] Gimenez just did it. That’s great if that’s good for them,” he said. “So, with the order tomorrow, Palm Beach and Broward have asked that the beaches be included in that, so we’re going to do it. But the rest are required to do social distancing,” he continued.

He ended the press conference asking people to socially distance themselves, as well as reminding Floridians that isolation due to coronavirus may last several months:

“So, I think our policies tried to be: let’s do the social distancing in ways that will effectively halt the spread of the virus, but are also sustainable if this ends up going, you know, many weeks and many months. I hope it doesn’t. But I think we’ve got to prepare for that.”

As of Friday morning, there are more than 520 confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida, with 10 deaths. Broward County and Dade County, where Miami is located, have seen the most cases — 124 and 113 respectively.