- Dec 11, 2018
Beachgoers in northwest Florida hoping to take advantage of newly-opened shores amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic could be in for something of a shock.
Those who hit the beach in the Sunshine State's Walton County this weekend will see joggers, swimmers, people on paddleboards . . . and perhaps a scythe-wielding Grim Reaper.
For Florida-based attorney Daniel Uhlfelder, donning the guise of a recognizable symbol of death was the only way to get people to listen. Opening Florida's beaches too soon is a mistake, he said, and one that'll cost lives as the county is still battling COVID-19.
"We have to take this into our own hands, unfortunately, because our leaders aren't doing the right thing," Uhlfelder told USA TODAY.
The father of two said he'll be hitting several Walton County-area beaches.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave some municipalities the OK to reopen beaches in mid-April, which led to people flocking to beaches in Jacksonville. On the other side of the country, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced some beaches in his state would temporarily close in response to what he called "disturbing" images of crowds.
"I think we need to temporarily close the beaches until we get this under control. These half-measures, or certain hours and certain activities — that's impractical and it's not feasible and people won't obey that," he said. "In an ideal world, sure. Who do you know that's going to go to the beach and social distance six feet from people?"
Uhlfelder and another attorney also sued DeSantis early in April hoping to get the governor to close all Florida beaches.
"Why am I doing this? Because we have to do something," Uhlfelder said. "The message is not getting across that this a deadly virus. This is a public health emergency and we don't need to be opening the floodgates to our area for people all over the world to continue to spread this virus."
Daniel Uhlfelder will dress as the Grim Reaper to protest what he calls the premature reopening of Florida's beaches during the coronavirus pandemic.