THOUSANDS have ignored strict rules aimed at tackling the coronavirus in Florida to attend parties on yachts off the state's coast.
Government officials in Boca Raton city last night shared pictures of spring breakers crammed together on boats after authorities urged people to stay at home and help slow the pandemic's spread.
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On image showed dozens of boats sat near each other in the middle of Lake Baco Raton, which sits between the city and the ocean.
Another showed at least 30 people standing at close quarters on two small boats moored together.
Within hours of the images being released, city officials announced they would be limiting access to the area.
"While Lake Boca Raton has always served as a social gathering spot for many boaters, and will again, now is not the time for parties and tie ups on the water," a statement said.
"Effective immediately, all boat ramps and marinas will be closed to all recreational boating activities to include boat launching, in/out storage activities, and boat rentals in Palm Beach County until further notice."
The statement added that access would still be allowed for support services and fishermen sourcing food for the city's restaurants and markets.
The action comes days after Governor Ron DeSantis issued orders that all 175 of Florida's state parks be closed and gatherings on beaches limited to ten people.
Speaking after the decisions came into force, DeSantis said: “Since I issued my directive, anybody who's put that in place, spring break’s done.
"Any place to go for bars and all this done. They don't have a place to go.”
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The US now has more than 35,000 cases of the coronavirus, placing it third in the world, and has had 471 deaths confirmed.
Speaking today on NBC's Today show, surgeon general Dr Jerome Adams urged Americans to stay at home.
"I want America to understand, this week, it's going to get bad," he said.
"Unfortunately, we're finding that a lot of people think this can't happen to them."
"We don't want Dallas or New Orleans or Chicago to turn into the next New York [where around 17,000 of the cases are situated].
"And that means everyone needs to be taking the right steps right, and that means stay at home."
He went on to urge people to follow the advice laid out in the White House's "15 Days To Stop The Spread" document.
"We really hoped to instil a sense of urgency across America," he said.
"But these mitigation measures work preventatively. They work best the earlier you do them.
"And people are still reacting, and waiting to see spread, before they decide to get serious."
The coronavirus has infected more than 343,000 people globally and killed at least 15,308 since first breaking out in late December.
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