As soon as the ban lifted at 5 p.m. local time, crowds of cheering people quickly descended upon Jacksonville Beach, according to CNN, which noted that several beach visitors were seen sunbathing, an activity Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry had specifically said would be prohibited.
Photos also showed people running on the very crowded beach, playing volleyball with friends and surfing within the first hour the beach was open to the public again.
In an effort to enforce proper guidelines, police were also spotted issuing warnings to people and a sign that flew over the beach warned: “Do your part. Stay 6 feet apart. Help keep beaches open,” according to the New York Post.
Under current government mandates, all social gatherings must be limited to 50 people or less.
Florida reopened some beaches today & they were packed. I guess in a way it makes perfect Florida-sense. To try to get a little sun so you look healthy at your funeral.#FloridaMorons
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) April 18, 2020
“I live in Florida and I don’t want to die! Yesterday we had the highest number of new cases of COVID-19, and what does GOP Governor DeSantis do? He opens beaches!” wrote one local resident. “I just don’t want to die. I don’t want my friends or family to die!”
I live in Florida and I don't want to die!
Yesterday we had the highest number of new cases of COVID-19, and what does GOP Governor DeSantis do? He opens beaches!
I just don't want to die. I don't want my friends or family to die!
Is that too much to ask for GOP?#FloridaMorons
— Ms. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) April 18, 2020
Amid the backlash, many Twitter users also expressed their displeasure at Florida Gov. Ron Desantis by sharing a video in which he could be seen incorrectly putting on a mask during a live television broadcast.
And here’s Florida Governor Ron DeSantis putting on his mask… pic.twitter.com/YKLHu7nuBo
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) April 18, 2020
Florida reported an increase of over 1,400 new cases on Friday, the largest amount of new reported cases to date, according to the Tampa Bay Times. As of April 18, there have been at least 24,745 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state, and 726 people have died, according to a New York Times database.