Some college kids are at packed beaches and others are spending time with family, so spring break looks different for everyone as the pandemic ensues.
Spring break visitors overwhelmed Miami Beach, Florida, over the weekend, resulting in more than 1,000 arrests and an emergency declaration shuttering businesses at 8 p.m.
That declaration has been authorized for an extension every week through April 13.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for beaches include suggestions for beachgoers to wear face coverings, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from people they don’t live with.
Yet some beach hot spots began spring break this year with few, if any, COVID-19 restrictions.
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Florida beaches urge COVID-19 protocols but don’t require them
Popular Florida spring break destinations such as Daytona Beach and Panama City Beach are open to the public with no COVID-19 mandates in effect.
Officials at both destinations urge beachgoers to follow CDC guidelines for visiting beaches, and the city of Daytona Beach requires all visitors and residents to wear masks indoors except in a home.
Florida did not enact a statewide mask mandate since the pandemic started, leaving the decision to city and county governments. On Sept. 25, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that barred local authorities from issuing fines for noncompliance.
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Video shows maskless crowd at popular Texas spring break locale
Beaches at South Padre Island, Texas, were opened with no COVID-19 restrictions as of March 10. Social distancing protocols and masks were recommended by the city’s website.
A video posted Friday on the Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill Facebook page shows a mostly maskless crowd of hundreds attending a concert on South Padre Island.
Texas officials in other Gulf Coast beach towns, including Corpus Christi and Port Aransas, announced this month that they increased patrols to monitor potential problems with the expected influx of spring breakers. And a 6 p.m. alcohol curfew was enacted at beaches in Port Aransas, Texas, ahead of spring break.
Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded Texas’ statewide mask mandate effective March 10, a decision criticized by public health experts, city and county leaders and President Joe Biden.
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South Carolina beach town requires masks but not at the beach
On March 1, the city of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, another popular destination for college students over spring break, extended its mask mandate through March 31.
But the city’s tourism website points out that masks are not required at its beaches as long as proper social distancing is observed.
There hasn’t been a statewide mask mandate in South Carolina, but county and city governments have been allowed to enact them.
Los Angeles County beaches do require face coverings
Beaches within Los Angeles County, including the popular spring break destination Long Beach, still require face coverings when visitors are not in the water.
Additionally, gatherings of more than 15 people with more than three households are not allowed.
California enacted a statewide mask mandate last June, and it remains in place “in all public and workplace settings where there is a high risk of exposure,” according to its official state website.
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