Fla. Attorney Plans to Dress Up as Grim Reaper and Hit the Beach to Encourage Social Distancing
Daniel Uhlfelder already has his suit, and will hit the beach on May 1, the day after the governor's stay-at-home order is currently set to be lifted
Floridians planning to hit the beach next week, beware — the Grim Reaper may be waiting.
As Gov. Ron DeSantis begins to ease restrictions on local beaches in the Sunshine State, one local attorney is taking it upon himself to make sure beachgoers know they may be tempting fate by getting close in public amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Daniel Uhlfelder of Santa Rosa Beach recently went viral with a tweet promising to dress as the Grim Reaper and spend some time on the sand starting May 1 (with six feet of distance, of course).
“Many of you have asked if I am willing to travel around Florida wearing Grim Reaper attire to the beaches and to other areas of the state opening up prematurely,” he wrote on Tuesday. “The answer is absolutely yes. Beginning May 1 we will hit the road here in state. Please retweet and spread the word.”
Uhlfelder — who filed suit against DeSantis last month to close Florida beaches — tells PEOPLE his morbid plan was inspired by his frustration over the reopening of beaches when people should still be inside social distancing to help stop the virus’ spread.
“People aren’t getting the message, so I thought, well, what would really make the message of, ‘Hey, we’re prematurely doing this, and it’s a matter of life and death. Let’s take a pause’?” he says. “There’s nothing really as direct of a symbol of death as the Grim Reaper, and this virus kills people with real regularity.”
Uhlfelder says he didn’t expect his tweet to go viral, but hopes that his state will be able to avoid earning a certain reputation.
“I’m a second-generation Floridian. I don’t want us to have the reputation of being idiots, but we’re getting that real quickly,” he says. “Not just being idiots, but being not very compassionate for human life.”
While Uhlfelder says he recognizes that beaches are a large part of Florida’s economy, he hopes local governments will take necessary precautions and hold off on opening the sands until science says it’s time.
His Grim Reaper suit has already been shipped to him from Walmart, and he says he’s ready to “make [his] presence known” on local beaches yet to be determined.
Uhlfelder is calling his mission “The Florida Grim Reaper Tour,” and is hoping to raise $20,000 in support of Democrats like Phil Ehr and Christy Smith, who are running for office.
Some beaches in north Florida have already started reopening for the first time in nearly a month; last Friday, crowds of cheering people quickly flooded Jacksonville Beach and began surfing, sunbathing and playing volleyball, CNN reported.
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Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said that parks and beaches in Duval County would stay open so long as visitors practiced social-distancing guidelines and only participated in “essential activities” like walking, biking, running and swimming.
Gov. DeSantis’ statewide stay-at-home order is in place until April 30.
As of Thursday afternoon, there have been 28,832 cases and 960 deaths attributed to coronavirus in Florida, according to The New York Times. The U.S. has seen more than 852,253 cases and 43,587 deaths.
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