Miami, Fort Lauderdale beaches close over coronavirus concerns

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MIAMI BEACH, FL – MARCH 12: A sparsely attended beach is seen as the city announces a state of emergency to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus on March 12, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. As Spring Break arrives in the area the city hopes to have measures in place to help fight COVID-19, including limiting large gatherings. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two of Florida’s most popular beaches are closed to the public in order to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, NBC 6 Miami reported.

The mayors of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale held a joint news conference on Sunday to announce the closures. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber declared that spring break was “over.”

“We can’t have the kinds of crowds we’ve had, the kinds of gatherings,” Gelber said. “I walked down Ocean Drive yesterday and what I saw was incredibly disturbing, it wasn’t just the typical large gatherings of people, but it was young people who believe they’re invincible and probably don’t really think of this in any way as a health crisis.”

Gelber also said the city was closing all non-essential retail stores as well as all parking garages and parking lots, except to residents. Loomis Park is also closed. The city also reopened Ocean Drive to traffic in an effort to limit the gathering of spring breakers in South Beach, the news station reported.

Mayor Dean Trantalis said Fort Lauderdale has closed the dry portion of its public beach from Harbor Drive to north of Oakland Park Boulevard. The beach will remain closed through April 12. All Fort Lauderdale bars and restaurants will close by 10 p.m.

Both cities are requiring bars and restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity.

“This is not forever, we’re gonna defeat this disease, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Trantalis said.

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