A few Florida beaches reopened this week despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, prompting one Florida lawyer, scythe in hand, to help beachgoers gain a better understanding of why that’s such a dumb idea.
In a clip that went viral on Twitter Friday, what at first seems like a standard local news interview turns into something out of the Scary Movie franchise when attorney and local resident Daniel Uhlfelder steps onto the beach in a full Grim Reaper ensemble. It might be a haunting sight if it wasn’t so hilarious, watching death himself talking calmly into a microphone while beachgoers soak up rays behind him.
“I’m here today to try to make a point that I think it’s premature that we open our beaches,” he told ABC 13 at Miramar Beach in Walton County. “It’s too soon, and it’s not appropriate.”
Friday’s appearance was just one stop in what Uhlfelder’s calling the “Grim Reaper Beach Tour”—a trip across coastal Florida as the “Covid Grim Reaper” to warn people to stay at home or risk...well, you get the idea. In addition to haunting beaches, though (as fun as that may be on its own), it’s also an effort to raise money for Democratic candidates running for Congress nationwide.
In the past, Uhlfelder’s been a fierce advocate of public beach access in Florida, even getting into legal battles with Mike Huckabee over the former Arkansas governor’s private property surrounding his Florida home. But in the face of a public health crisis that’s killed more than 1,000 people in the state, he’s pivoted to fighting to keep beachgoers at bay and suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after the governor cleared the state’s first phase of reopenings for May 4.
“With covid-19, we still have no reliable data on infection numbers, hardly any testing and a limited amount of health professionals and resources in Walton County to deal with this pandemic,” Uhlfelder said in a news release per the Pensacola News Journal.
“In these circumstances, I can see no rational reason to open our beaches, effectively inviting tens of thousands of tourists back into our community. If by dressing up as the ‘Grim Reaper’ and walking our beaches I can make people think and potentially help save a life—that is the right thing to do.”
And with a string of more Florida beaches scheduled to reopen within the coming weeks, it looks like the Covid Grim Reaper has a lot of haunting ahead of him.