3 Broward beaches to close July 4th weekend amid surge in COVID-19 cases

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Three beaches in Broward County, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Hallandale Beach, will be closed during the Fourth of July weekend in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, local leaders said.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis joined the mayors of the other two municipalities to make the announcement at a news conference held on Fort Lauderdale Beach, Sunday afternoon.

“The reason why we’re doing this is because 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,” said Trantalis.

The news conference was disrupted by some heckling from beachgoers frustrated with the upcoming closures.

One beachgoer yelled out “freedom” and “First Amendment” at different intervals.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Mayor Christopher Vincent said the expected increase in beach traffic during the holiday weekend compelled them to take action.

“Everybody wants to know why we’re not closed today, and the reason we’re not closed today is we’re not going to have to influx of about 10 times as many people as we have today,” he said. “We’re going to have 10 times that next week.”

“This does not mean that our businesses are closing. Our businesses will remain open,” said Trantalis. “All the restaurants, all the T-shirt shops, all the retail shops, everything will be open.”

Trantalis said the city is planning to make an important traffic closure.

“A1A will be open. In fact, we’re probably going to close one lane off with cones so people can walk along A1A,” he said.

The beach ban announcement comes in the middle of consecutive days Florida health officials have reported rapid rises in new COVID-19 cases, with a total of 8,530 new cases on Sunday.

Miami-Dade County reported a record high number with 2,152 new cases overnight. Broward reported 574 new cases, and Monroe reported 15 new cases.

The stunning surge prompted Broward leaders to follow Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s lead. He announced Friday that the county’s beaches will also be closed during the Fourth of July weekend.

“I could foresee a Fourth of July with throngs of people on the beach, very difficult to keep social distancing, people getting together,” he said on Saturday, “especially young people getting together, and we know that this virus is prevalent in that age group, and we want to keep that down.”

“I’m the most southern city, Hallandale Beach, and obviously, with Miami-Dade County closing their beaches, my beach is a backyard to many of our residents,” said Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper.

Though the news might come as a disappointment to those heading to South Florida this coming weekend, Trantalis said the decision was made with their safety in mind.

“It’s important that everyone understands that we are all working together to keep our environment safe,” he said. “It’s absolutely important that everybody understands that safety is the most important thing.”

It remains unclear whether other beaches in the county will also close next weekend, but Broward Mayor Dale Holness said he will be holding a news conference Monday morning.

Sunday night, Palm Beach County officials confirmed they will also be closing their beaches during the Fourth of July weekend.

“It is an unfortunate result, but public health remains the focus of the elected leaders of Palm Beach County,” said Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner.

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