Lockdown measures, which have been in place for close to a month in the US, may be no match for the call of the sea – or the beach, at least.
In California, beaches which had been closed for weeks re-opened over the weekend. Temperatures reached up into the 80-90 degree range, and after a month of being confined indoors, people took to local beaches for temporary relief. Over 40,000 people visited beaches which had recently re-opened in Orange County. Some beaches, such as those in Los Angeles and San Diego, stayed closed.
In March, spring breakers visiting a beach in Florida were caught on camera saying that they had been looking forward to the holiday all year and that they wouldn’t change their plans. A group of five students who had travelled for spring break later tested positive for coronavirus. But on the same day that some beaches were re-opened for visitors, Florida recorded its highest amount of coronavirus cases.
As the summer approaches, local and regional governments are increasingly worried about the effect that warm weather may have on people’s adherence to lockdown measures. While these beaches were re-opened, people had to make sure they socially distanced – for example, they could throw a frisbee back and forth as long as they were maintaining 2 metres distance, but they couldn’t have a BBQ.
Footage and images show people swimming the ocean, sunbathing and surfing too. While it’s hard to tell how police would enforce social distancing on such massive stretches of land, police reported that people were mostly doing their best, and that they only had to issue a handful of fines.
The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, encouraged people to respect social distancing regulations in a tweet on Friday, saying that, “CA can only keep flattening the curve if we stay home and practice physical distancing. You have the power to literally save lives.”