CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Bay area is busier than ever this year as spring breakers flock to Florida to escape the cold, raising questions about whether the community can stay safe.
Over the weekend, traffic was backed up for hours as tourists arrived.
Visitors from places like California are thanking Governor Ron DeSantis for keeping the state open for business during Spring Break.
Those who are visiting say they were attracted to visiting the Sunshine State, Tampa Bay in particular, because there’s plenty of space with endless beautiful beaches ranked nationally.
There’s also lots and lots of fresh air, which visitors admit they’re craving after being cooped up during the pandemic
Beaches in Pinellas County are busier than ever.
“I feel like it’s not as restricted as other states like New York,” said Isaiah Hand.
Hand is visiting with a friend from California, where residents remain under tight restrictions with no freedom, they say.
“I feel like here, you go out and take a chance, in California, they shut things down early, you have to have a mask in the bars,” Hand said.
So, they flew to Florida—and they have a message for Governor Ron DeSantis: “I like the rules, I feel safe. Keep doing what you’re doing,” said Messiah James.
So, how do you keep crowds safe in cities like Clearwater when thousands are arriving?
A city spokesperson says personal responsibility is key during this pandemic, and they’re not the “rule police.”
In fact, bars and restaurants will be checked on a periodic and random basis by Clearwater Police officers with citations possible. The city does not want a lockdown.