Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has decided to reopen some of the state’s beaches and parks even as the pandemic continues.
Mayor Lenny Curry announced that beaches in Duval County—which encompasses Jacksonville—reopen on Friday afternoon with limited hours, from 6 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m., WKMG reports. Patrons are only allowed to walk, bike, hike, fish, run, swim, surf, and take care of pets.
“Folks, this could be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life, but please respect and follow these limitations,” Curry said in a video posted to social media. “We’ll get back to life as we know it, but we must be patient.”
Just mere weeks ago, Florida officials were slammed for failing to close the state’s beaches during spring break. In mid-March, videos and photos surfaced online showing thousands of spring breakers and tourists crowding Clearwater Beach. After spring break, a handful of Florida students who had gone on spring break tested positive for COVID-19.
As a response, most counties shuttered their beaches or restricted access. Some popular beaches in South Florida, like Miami Beach, were shut down by state order.
During the news conference, DeSantis said some districts can reopen parks and beaches if they so desire. However, beach-goers will still have to adhere to social distancing guidelines. He added that it’s imperative that people get exercise, sunshine, and fresh air.
“Do it in a good way. Do it in a safe way,” he added.
However, not everyone is behind Florida's decision to reopen its beaches.
At the beginning of April, Georgia also reopened its beaches. Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order that superseded local mandates that mitigated the spread of coronavirus, forcibly reopening public access to beaches.