Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday gave the green light for some beaches in North Florida to reopen, becoming the first beaches to reopen in the state since the COVID-19 virus forced beachgoers and vacationers to stay away.
Some of the first to open back up to the public will be the Duval Beaches after Mayor Lenny Curry announced that parks and beaches in the county would reopen Friday at 5 p.m. with certain restrictions.
Those restrictions would be limited to only “essential activities,” as defined by an executive order issued by the governor. Those activities include walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming and surfing. Sunbathing or lounging is still prohibited.
We remain under a State and local safer at home order. Limited access to beaches/ parks is for recreational activities only. No chairs, coolers, sitting/groups congregating. Public safety workers will break up groups. Use these spaces responsibly. Don’t ruin this for everyone https://t.co/eiZZpGVhNP
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) April 17, 2020
The beaches will be open between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Gatherings of 50 or more people are prohibited and people must still practice social distancing.
“Reopening will take time and be done in thoughtful measured steps,” Curry tweeted late Thursday. “As we Open areas it is important for folks to practice social distancing. Let’s get the beach and park openings with limitations right. Keep moving. No large groups.”
Florida officials were criticized for leaving beaches open during spring break last month. Most counties closed their beaches in response to the outbreak. Other beaches — like those in Miami — were closed via executive order.
At a news conference in Fort Lauderdale today, DeSantis encouraged some municipalities to start reopening parks and beaches, but only if they were able to follow guidelines and adhere to social distancing measures.
“Do it in a good way. Do it in a safe way,” DeSantis said.