Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave local governments in the state the go-ahead to reopen beaches on Friday. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced that Duval County beaches would open on the same day, though with restricted hours. The beaches could also only be used for walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets, and surfing.
But as people lined up to get on beaches, CNN reports that "social distancing seemed to be the last thing on anyone's mind." The publication spoke to come residents who described not being able to use the beach as "torture."
And despite the new guidelines, CNN states that "people were out with their towels, coolers and sunbathing," adding that "there were very few masks."
"This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life," Mayor Lenny Curry said. "Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors."
The decision to reopen beaches came as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington forecast that the state had passed its peak two weeks ago. Despite this, Florida saw its highest one-day increase in cases and deaths in the state surpassed 700 on Friday.
As photographs of the crowded beaches made their way online on Friday, Twitter users used the hashtag "Florida Moron" to voice their displeasure. "I understand the push to get back to work," one user wrote. "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."
While another added: "And these #FloridaMoron will flood Publix and share what they carry to essential workers which have been working so hard for their families and everyone who needs food! These are bunch of selfish morons. The essential workers wish they could stay home. They do!!"
Another user wrote: "Hey I'm a Local Floridian. Live a couple of blocks from the Jax beaches. Born & raised here. The Morons are the ones who've moved here from other moronic states. Let's face it, We live amongst idiots. But you won't catch me step foot on my beach out of #respect #FloridaMoron."
While another user joked: "Glad I got my dad out of Florida so I don't catch him being a #floridamoron, instead he can be his typical Massachusetts moron from the safety of home."
Footage of Gov. Ron DeSantis struggling to put on a mask also went viral.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.