Jarring photo shows difference between open, closed beach amid pandemic

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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — All public beaches were closed in St. Johns County after beachgoers were not able to practice social distancing or follow other CDC guidelines.

The lack of social distancing was made clear by a viral photograph posted to Twitter Saturday afternoon. Jacksonville Beach resident Clay Archer posted the picture above showing the stark contrast between an open St. Johns County beach and a closed Duval County beach amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“You can see exactly where Duval County ends and St. Johns County begins,” Travis Akers tweeted. “[Florida] Gov. [Ron] DeSantis needs to order a statewide closure of all Florida beaches.”

So far, DeSantis has been leaving public beach lockdown decisions up to the respective cities or counties. St. Johns County announced the closure of its public beaches a few hours after the above photograph went viral.

“We have taken as many measures as possible up to this point to preserve our residents’ ability to access their beach,” St. Johns County Administrator Hunter Conrad said. “Unfortunately, those visiting the beach continue to ignore CDC guidelines regarding crowd size and personal distancing. In order to maintain public safety and respect the State of Florida’s Executive Order, we had no choice but to close the coastline to public access today.

“We will continue to be methodical in our approach to closings related to COVID-19, and like every decision we have made to this point, we will open the beaches at the appropriate time when it is safe to do so.”

All boat ramps, parks, green spaces, and trails remain open for safe public use, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office says.

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