Jacksonville’s beaches began a partial reopening this last weekend. Mayor Curry announced that beaches would be available for limited public access each morning between 6 and 11 a.m., as well as in the afternoons from 5 to 8 p.m.
There are also a few new restrictions visitors should be aware of. The following activities are suggested as things to do that maintain social distancing protocols:
- Taking care of pets
In addition, the following items and activities are currently prohibited:
The general message is that the beach will be available for mobile activities and that visitors should not plan to gather in one location for too long. Social distancing must also be observed – people shouldn’t gather in large groups or expect to throw a grill party.
But is it a good idea?
The reopening of the Jacksonville beaches has received international media coverage with discussion coming from outlets as far as the United Kingdom and Republic of Korea. Several expressed fear that visitors weren’t taking proper precautions, or that this would be interpreted as an end to the need for pandemic countermeasures.
Lenny Curry took to Twitter to defend his decision and criticize some of the reporting:
If infection numbers and hospitalizations on the First Coast remain stable, this is likely to be the first of many small steps toward reopening the city. Governor DeSantis has also indicated that it could serve as a model for the state as it seeks to get back to business and fill the gap in sales tax revenues caused by the sudden drop in tourism and hospitality.
On the other hand, if infection rates and hospitalizations pick up pace, this action to open the beaches will clearly be a warning about declaring victory too soon.
For now, visitors will be welcomed so long as they’re following the new restrictions. Local police and beach patrol will be enforcing the rules, so be sure to be mindful of the new regulations while planning your trip.
And of course, if enough people fail to heed these protective measures, the Mayor has also assured us that he can close the beaches back down just as quickly as he opened them! Only time will tell if it was ultimately a good idea.
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