Florida Officials Close Several Beaches After Spring Breakers Continue Partying Despite Warnings

"It's really messing up with my spring break," one spring breaker said in a video prompting outrage

For some spring breakers in Florida, the party never stops — even when there’s a pandemic. But officials are now stepping in and taking the proper precautions to ensure the safety of their residents and visitors.

Brady Sluder is one of many young people who recently flocked to Miami amid the COVID-19 outbreak, eager to maintain his spring break plans that he told Reuters were months in the making.

However, right as his trip was beginning, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state order on Tuesday, mandating all bars and nightclubs to close for 30 days while they attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, according to CBS affiliate WFOR.

Still, Sluder wasn’t alarmed by the virus.

“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying,” the Ohio resident told Reuters in a video shared by CBS News. “We’ve been waiting for Miami spring break for a while, about two months we’ve had this trip planned.”

“We’re just out here having a good time,” he added. “Whatever happens, happens.”

After CBS News posted the video on its Twitter account Wednesday, the clip was viewed over 23 million times, with many users sharing their outrage over the spring breakers’ “selfish” and “entitled” comments.

spring break

Like Sluder, Brianna Leeder expressed disappointment to Reuters.

“It’s really messing up with my spring break,” said 21-year-old Wisconsin resident Brianna Leeder. “What is there to do here other than go to the bars or the beach? And they’re closing all of it.”

“I think they’re blowing it way out of proportion,” she added of the federal and state government’s reaction to the outbreak, despite the mounting death toll. “I think it’s doing way too much.”

Fellow 21-year-old spring breaker Atlantis Walker from Indiana told Reuters in the video, “This virus ain’t that serious.”

Seemingly unaware of the unparalleled threat coronavirus poses to the world, Walker added, “There’s more serious things out there like hunger and poverty and we need to address that.”

spring break
Mike Ehrmann/Getty

Many called on Florida officials to officially close the beaches, which were inundated with visitors, as shown in photos captured by ABC affiliate WFTS reporter Sarah J. Hollenbeck, and take more action to prevent these gatherings.

By Thursday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced in a Twitter video that all parks and beaches in the county would be closed as of 9 a.m. He also said he was closing non-essential retail and commercial businesses, such as casinos, nail salons, malls, and spas, to prevent the spread of the virus.

Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Naples have also closed their beaches until further notice, according to NBC News.

Appearing on Fox & Friends shortly after the announcement, DeSantis — who previously refused to close beaches — said he hopes the closures will encourage visitors to stop gathering in large groups and follow the CDC’s recommendation to practice social distancing.

“The message I think for spring breakers is that the party’s over in Florida, you’re not going to be able to congregate on any beach in the state,” DeSantis said. “Many of the hot spots that people like to go to, whether it’s Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Clearwater Beach, are closed entirely for the time being.”

“The bars are closed so you’re not going to have a place to congregate there, so we would just tell those folks maybe come back next year when things are better, but that is not what we’re looking for here in the state of Florida,” he added. “Every single beach will have to abide by the CDC guidelines, no more than 10 people, you have to be socially distant, not every beach is going to remain open, but some will.”

As of Thursday, there have been at least 10,822 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 168 deaths in the United States, according to the New York Times. In Florida, alone, there are at least 389 reported cases and six deaths from the virus.

DeSantis also recommended that all 12 public universities in Florida implement remote classes through the end of the semester, according to CBS News.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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