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Jacksonville Mayor Announces 1st Florida Beach Reopening Since Coronavirus Shutdown

Police tape and pylons block the public access to Jacksonville Beach last month amid the coronavirus outbreak. The mayor of Jacksonville, Fla., says parks and beaches in Duval County would reopen Friday for "essential activities" only.
Police tape and pylons block the public access to Jacksonville Beach last month amid the coronavirus outbreak. The mayor of Jacksonville, Fla., says parks and beaches in Duval County would reopen Friday for "essential activities" only.

Jacksonville, Fla., Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday that parks and beaches in Duval County would reopen Friday at 5 p.m. with certain restrictions. The mayor said restrictions would allow "essential activities" only, as defined in an executive order signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Those "essential activities" include walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing, as long as they're done within social distancing guidelines. Sunbathing is still prohibited.

In a statement recorded and distributed on social media, Curry said, "This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life." But he told residents, "Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as the safety of your neighbors."

Beach hours will be limited to morning and evening hours only. They'll remain closed between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Duval is the first county to reopen its beaches since last month, when local governments in Florida began shutting them down during spring break. Jacksonville kept its beaches open later than most, but closed them nearly a month ago.

DeSantis has formed a task force to develop a plan for reopening Florida's economy. He says it will be working "around the clock" and should have a proposal ready "very soon."

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