Florida Governor Sued Over Refusal to Close All Beaches

(CN) — A Florida lawyer says Governor Ron DeSantis is endangering the entire country by not taking executive action ordering all of the state’s beaches to close amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Daniel Uhlfelder filed a lawsuit against DeSantis in Leon County Circuit Court on Friday. The 4-page complaint cites Section 252.36(1)(a) of Florida Statues, which says the “governor is responsible for meeting the dangers presented to this state and its people by emergencies.”

“The governor has the responsibility to initiate immediate action to cope with the emerging health problems and try to prevent the spread of infectious diseases,” the complaint states.

Cece Guida, 19, top, of New York City, pushes on Sam Reddick, 20, of Evansville, Ind., as spring break revelers look on during a game of chicken fight on the beach March 17, 2020, in Pompano Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

DeSantis issued an executive order on March 20 closing the beaches in Broward and Palm Beach County but not the rest of Florida’s beaches.

 

In an interview Saturday, Uhlfelder said the governor is not closing beaches statewide because he is “indecisive and inexperienced.”

Uhlfelder said tourists who contract the novel virus Covid-19 on Florida’s beaches will infect others when they return to their home states.

“This is a public safety issue,” Uhlfelder said. “(DeSantis) has just endangered the whole country.”

On March 17, DeSantis issued an executive order for beach goers to limit their parties to groups of 10 and for people to stay six feet away from other parties. Uhlfelder called the order “unenforceable and ambiguous.”

“You can’t have social distancing and open beaches,” he said. “It’s impossible.”

Uhlfelder, who lives in Walton County, tried to meet with DeSantis in Tallahassee on Wednesday, visiting the Capitol, but he said DeSantis’s aide told him the governor was not available that day. Uhlfelder said the aide refused to take his business card, and DeSantis closed the Capitol the next day.

“He’s trying to have his cake and eat it too,” Uhlfelder said. “He’s a coward.”

Uhlfelder says he plans to amend the complaint in the coming days. The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

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