A dark, hooded figure is descending on Florida beaches.
And he hopes to scare away beachgoers flocking to the sand amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Daniel Uhlfelder, an attorney in Santa Rosa, started dressing up as the Grim Reaper on Friday.
Shrouded in a black robe and wielding a terrifying scythe, Uhlfelder is hoping the menacing getup will ward off visitors as parts of the Sunshine State begin to reopen.
“Many of you have asked if I am willing to travel around Florida wearing Grim Reaper attire to the beaches and other areas of the state opening up prematurely,” Uhlfelder said on Twitter. “The answer is absolutely yes.”
Beaches in Miami-Dade and Broward are not yet open, but other counties around the state - including Okaloosa, Hernando, Flagler, Pasco, Duval and Monroe - have started opening up their beaches. Certain rules and regulations - such as no large groups, no chairs and social distancing - remain in place.
Gov. Ron DeSantis prohibited gatherings of 10 or more at all of the state’s beaches in March, leaving more rigorous restrictions to county leaders. On April 3rd, DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order that effectively closed non-essential businesses.
Almost a month later, restrictions around the state are starting to ease. In a press conference with President Donald Trump Tuesday, DeSantis said Florida has succeeded in “flattening the curve,” noting that Florida’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths are significantly lower per-capita than many states that instituted earlier and stricter restrictions.
According to the latest available data from the Florida Department of Health, the state has more than 33,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 1,200 deaths and more than 5,400 hospitalizations.
DeSantis’ critics say Florida’s reopening is premature, and fear a resurgence of COVID-19 if social distancing measures are not properly enforced.
Uhlfelder, for one, is taking matters into his own hands.
The Miami native created a Make My Day PAC to promote his “Florida Grim Reaper Tour.”
“Many have asked if I would travel the coastal towns of Florida to warn our fellow Floridians about the dangers of not social distancing in the attire of the Grim Reaper, and the answer is a resounding yes!” the page reads.
Most people who saw the Grim Reaper on the beach in Walton County were unfazed and said they are still glad the beaches are open.