The “new normal” in Florida hints at startling government encroachment against private property rights and individual human autonomy. On March 30, Sunshine State Governor Ron DeSantis (R) issued a “Safer-at-Home” order for residents of three heavily populated southeast coast counties and Monroe County in the Florida Keys amid the Coronavirus health pandemic. The move encourages millions of Floridians to stay inside and be aware of social-distancing protocol. “We will do this through the middle of May, and then see where we’re at,” DeSantis said in announcing the move. “This is the time to do the right thing. Listen to all of your local officials.”
Can We Do That?
DeSantis’s rulings have already been justified by local officials in Florida to crack down on individual personal actions conducted on private property as well as activities in the public square. DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-70 on March 20, which decreed that “all movie theatres, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gymnasiums, fitness studios and beaches” in Broward and Palm Beach counties “shall close.” The word “beaches” is vague, as it did not clarify whether it refers to only public beaches or also to private-access beaches that many state residents enjoy. I live in southeast Florida. For nine days after the executive order was issued, the private beaches near me remained open. Then they were suddenly sealed off on March 30 as DeSantis prepared to invoke his “Safer-at-Home” pronouncement.
On March 20, the city of Destin, in the northwest part of the state, voted to close all its beaches, both public and private. According to a local newspaper report, the city council did not even know if it had the authority to shut down private beaches as it voted to do just that.
“Council member Chatham Morgan, who made the motion to order the closure of private as well as public beaches, said he was ‘disappointed’ that Gov. Ron DeSantis hadn’t acted himself to close all of the state’s beaches,” reported The Destin Log.
“He added an addendum to his motion that said, should the city learn it does not have the authority to close its private beaches, staff would issue a formal call to the governor to order their closing,” continued The Log.
‘We Need to Make This a Way of Life’
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner accompanied DeSantis during a press conference in West Palm Beach as the governor announced his new stay orders. His county sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, has stated that his force will be going after private golfers and boaters during the health crisis.
“You don’t get to opt out of the emergency orders just because you’re a private country club,” Bradshaw stated in the Palm Beach Daily News. “To the country club managers, you will be the one that I will come and see and give you the notice to appear (in court) if you don’t shut the golf course down until further notice.
“Same with the boat ramps,” Bradshaw continued. “Boat ramps are still closed.”
The Daily News reports Kerner “praised local residents” for adhering to emergency directives while stating they will be expected to do so for quite some time. “Not today,” he said when asked when the orders may be revoked. “It’s not next week. It’s probably not four weeks from now. We need to make this a way of life. And we will all be very, very thankful for it.”
There is no evidence that individuals partaking of these isolated outdoor activities – private beach use, golfing at a private club, or boating – would be violating “social-distancing” directives issued by health officials, which restrict groupings of ten or more people. Yet all these private pursuits are targeted, and residents are expected to comply, no questions asked. A health crisis response that initially sought to curb large gatherings now curtails solo human behavior.
There has been conflicting information in establishment media organs as to whether the mere act of going outside represents a health hazard. Despite the oft-stated truism that sunlight is the best disinfectant, a March 30 USA Today “Fact Check” aimed to disprove the “claim” that the energy source for all life on Earth is able to help fight the Coronavirus.
“In my opinion, keeping the beaches closed and having people quarantined inside their homes is a bad decision,” holistic health blogger David Friedman wrote in a post. “Getting more sunshine is a proactive step we can all take at protecting ourselves from the current coronavirus outbreak.”
“The claim has been shared widely on the internet, but it holds little truth,” USA Today rebutted. “Experts have advised against using concentrated UV light to prevent or treat the coronavirus and do not recommend going in the sunlight to kill the virus. Our ruling: False,” the self-appointed “fact checkers” concluded about the guy who says it’s good for people to go outside.
Meanwhile CBS This Morning had a Q&A on March 30 with “a panel of experts” that included Dr. David Agus, a “medical contributor” to the network. CBS News star Gayle King amazingly asked the doctor, “Is it okay to go outside to just walk around the park? Is that safe, because somebody told me, no, you shouldn’t even go outside because you could pick it up in the air, you can pick it up on your feet when you’re walking around. What is the truth about that?”
“Yeah, it’s okay to go outside,” Dr. Agus responded. “UV sunlight does degrade the virus. You need to maintain social distance … But we’re gonna go stir crazy if we’re sitting in a room staring at four walls.”
“Can you pick it up on your shoes?” King asked again.
“I can’t imagine that the virus is going to live and then be able to carry through in your shoes,” Dr. Agus replied. “That being said, you can always leave your shoes at the door if you’re worried.”
As I stood on a railing by a Florida public beach the very same day this interview was posted on the CBS News website, a dark-painted helicopter swooped in and hovered low over the stretch of sand right near me for a full minute or two. I gazed around. Nobody was on the beach below the copter, although a couple of people sat on a section of private beach a bit further up. Just as abruptly as it came, the helicopter sped off. There weren’t 100 people on the beach. There weren’t even four. There were two. And apparently they were on their own private property.
This is your country now, America.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.
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