Florida’s panhandle beaches are shutting down. Tourist-heavy Okaloosa, Walton and Bay County Beaches are closed. Now, Franklin and Wakulla are too.
The shut down of beaches up and down the state’s 1,350 miles of coastline follow Centers For Disease Control guidelines to limit groups to no more than 10 people.
Wakulla’s Shell Point and Marshes Sands Beaches are closed indefinitely. Violators of Franklin County’s beach closures could be charged with a second degree misdemeanor or a fine of up to $500.
At first, the beaches were seen as a refuge for people who may be stuck indoors amid the coronavirus outbreak. But large Spring Break crowds ignoring the warnings initially led Miami-Dade and Broward to close their sands. Other counties followed suit. Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order for South Florida beaches to close as well. Bay County, home to the Spring Break hot spot of Panama City, caved late last week after initially saying they would stay open.
Other state’s have issued strict stay-at-home orders, but so far Governor Ron DeSantis has resisted such calls. The moves come as the number of COVID 19 infections has crossed a thousand in Florida. As of today at noon, the number of deaths in the state is at 13.