Fla. Gov. issues order to beef up social distancing enforcement on waterways

Governor Ron DeSantis directed the FWC to enforce social distancing on Florida's waterways.

FLORIDA — Governor Ron DeSantis says the state is stepping up enforcement of social distancing on Florida’s waterways.

This word comes after many complaints about crowd sizes on boats.

Some boaters are worried that a few people not taking the rules seriously could ruin it for everyone else.

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“What they are doing is tying all of these boats together and having large group parties. I’m directing FWC to issue an emergency order to enforce the social distancing rules on the waterways,” DeSantis said in a news conference Friday.

Although the governor has chosen not to lock down the state to contain the virus, he said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission received reports that boaters are violating social-distancing requirements.

“I’m going out with my roommate Troy on the boat, go cruising around, just moved to Jacksonville,” said Kendrick Holsten.

But for boaters like Holsten, getting out safely two or three times a week is the only way to free his mind.

“Be careful, wash your hands, enjoy your life and try to make the most out of this situation,” Holsten said.

Action News Jax spotted dozens of boaters at Mike Mccue park and boat ramp Friday afternoon.

Some boaters who asked not to be on camera told Action News Jax reporter Jamarlo Phillips the boating community has been good about keeping distance during the outbreak.

“You don’t want things to be worse than they are now. Right now you can still go to the grocery store, gas station and still come out here. If more people start getting sick, more things will start shutting down. It’s not good for anybody,” Holsten said.

On average, positive COVID-19 cases have been doubling every three days in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.

DeSantis says by enforcing social distancing, the numbers could keep from climbing higher.

“Having close contact with people or being in large crowds, I mean those are the two ways you can most likely transmit or contract the virus, so we can’t be having these large crowds,” said DeSantis.

Action News Jax is working to learn the penalties a boater could face if they don’t follow social distancing rules.

FWC says their focus has been safe boating.

They also encourage you to use the guidelines from the Department of Health and CDC about social distancing.