Miami Beaches Close for July 4 as COVID-19 Dampens Independence Day Plans

Beaches in a Florida county hard-hit by the COVID-19-causing coronavirus will soon close ahead of the Fourth of July weekend as the pandemic dampens celebrations across the country.

Miami Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez is due to sign an emergency order on Saturday closing all beaches in Miami-Dade County from July 3 to 7, spanning Independence Day weekend. The measure could be extended "if conditions do not improve" and if people don't follow rules to wear masks in commercial settings and outdoors when staying 6ft apart is not possible, he said in a statement.

The decision came as Florida was among states to see a recent rise in COVID-19 cases. Of the more than 123,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Florida, over 30,000 have occurred in Miami-Dade County.

Gimenez said gatherings and parades will be restricted to 50 people, made of five groups of no more than 10, during this period. Participants must wear masks, and practice social distancing.

In addition, fireworks displays will not be allowed on parks and beaches in the county. Instead people must watch them from home or a parked vehicle, Gimenez said.

"After all the success we have had tamping down the COVID-19 curve, we cannot turn back and overload our hospitals, putting our doctors and nurses at greater risk with more emergency room cases," he said.

Gimenez was not alone in his concern that Fourth of July celebrations may help the coronavirus to spread. Officials around the country have canceled or altered annual fireworks displays and events, and urged people to stay indoors.

In a news conference on Thursday, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said residents should celebrate and enjoy Fourth of July at home.

Bowser acknowledged the White House had planned a fireworks display over the National Mall on Independence Day and said officials would support the activities, but that "we hope that the crowds that come in non-pandemic years won't materialize this year."

And in New York City, Macy's annual Fourth of July fireworks display will instead take place on unannounced evenings from Monday to Saturday. Each will last for around five minutes so residents don't have the opportunity to gather.

The department store wrote on its website: "Please note: Staying close to home and following safe social distancing guidelines is the best way to enjoy the show."

Other celebrations are going virtual, including Houston's Shell Freedom Over Texas. Live performances and fireworks will broadcast online and on ABC 13 on Saturday instead of taking place at the Eleanor Tinsley and Sam Houston Parks.

Los Angeles' block party at its Grand Park will meanwhile be streamed online and broadcast on KACB Channel 7.

COVID19, Miami-Dade, florida, getty
Beachgoers take advantage of the opening of South Beach on June 10, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images