FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Beaches in Broward and Monroe counties will also now be closed during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, in addition to beaches in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Broward County officials announced Monday that all public beaches in the county will close beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Broward beaches will reopen to the public at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.
“We’ve seen a large increase in the number of positive tests over the past week. It is alarming,” Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said at a Monday morning news conference. “And we have to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our community and our economy.”
Holness said county officials are considering a mask mandate that would require people to wear masks not only inside businesses, but outside, as well.
Earlier Monday, Monroe County announced that all county-owned parks and beaches will be closed beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday and will reopen at normal operating hours on Tuesday, July 7.
The beach closures are due to the latest spike in both counties of COVID-19 cases, especially among a younger demographic. Coronavirus in the state and the country continue to rise.
“The most important thing in the city of Fort Lauderdale is to ensure this virus doesn’t spread as much as it has been.,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said over the weekend.
He stressed that while the beaches in Fort Lauderdale will be closed from July 3 to 5, businesses along A1A will stay open “as long as they follow the rules,” he said.
Also different this year, the big Fort Lauderdale fireworks show on the beach will not happen. Instead, four smaller fireworks displays will be scattered across the city for residents to enjoy from their homes.
Those displays will be from Holiday Park, Fort Lauderdale City Hall, Carter Park and Beach Community Center. The shows are not open to spectators and no pedestrians or vehicles will be permitted access to the areas.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced on Friday that no one will be allowed on Miami-Dade County beaches July 3 to 7, which means Broward County beaches would open two days earlier than Miami-Dade’s.
“I can foresee a Fourth of July where you have throngs of people on the beach, very difficult to keep social distancing, people getting together, especially young people getting together. We now see this virus is prevalent in this age group and we want to keep this down,” Gimenez said.
Gimenez said he is also sending a stern warning ahead of time, that if people don’t comply with the Fourth of July restrictions, he’s willing to shut down the beaches even longer.
“I want to stress that I will extend this order and keep the beaches closed past July 7 if we do not see people taking this seriously.”
Trantalis cited concerns over an inability to provide enforcement on the beach regarding social distancing and large crowds congregating during what is notoriously a busy holiday weekend.
“We feel that we will not be able to provide the necessary safe environment that everyone is entitled to enjoy when they come to our beaches,” he said.
Local 10 News managing editor Amanda Batchelor contributed to this report.