JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE: Here's what Jacksonville Beach looked like during partial 'reopening' Friday
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday that Duval County's beaches and park will reopen Friday at 5 p.m. after being closed for a month because of COVID-19.
The beaches and parks will reopen "with restrictions for essential activities only," a city news release states.
The news release goes on to say those activities have been defined by Gov. Ron DeSantis, and are as follows:
• Participating in recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines
• Such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing
“This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” Curry stated in the news release. “Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors.”
Beaches will open from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. each morning and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. each evening, the city's news release states. Beaches will remain closed during all other time periods.
"Please be advised that you are swimming and surfing at your own risk," the news release states.
Parks that are owned and operated by the City of Jacksonville will resume normal hours starting at 5 p.m. Friday limiting gatherings to fewer than 50 people, according to Curry's executive order.
The city also announced the following reopenings:
• City of Jacksonville golf courses will reopen during normal operating hours, but individuals must follow social distancing requirements
• No overnight camping at Hanna or Huguenot parks is permitted
• Playground amenity usage must follow social distancing requirements
• No organized group activities are permitted – this includes picnics or gatherings, team sports, or any type of group activity
• All park restroom facilities will remain closed
• Pavilions and picnic areas will remain closed
The news doesn't come without disagreements.
"This is really a crazy bad idea," Jacksonville resident Deborah Melvin said.
Melvin said some of her friends and family members have died from COVID-19 and she's concerned.
"I'm afraid. I'm afraid for myself. I'm afraid for my family. Everybody should use their common sense," Melvin said.
“I honestly thought it was phenomenal," Jacksonville resident Amanda Campos said.
"It gives people fresh air. They can go for a walk. It’s nothing crazy. We’re not saying the clubs are opening and it’s not a closed space," Campos said.
Others said the move will help businesses at the beaches.
“It would allow me to reopen the restaurant every day of the week for to-go purchases and keep my staff working," Greg Pratt, owner of Sneakers Sports Grille, said.
COVID-19 forced Pratt to close his restaurant during the week, only open for takeout on the weekends.
Then, there are some who see pros and cons to both arguments.
"You don’t want people going stir crazy," Jacksonville resident Rey Rodriguez said.
"They need places to go and they need to feel like their lives are normal. That’s the only way we’re going to get through this, but I do feel like it’s a little bit soon,” Rodriguez said.
Law enforcement will be enforcing the restrictions, but asks you to cooperate so the beaches and parks aren't closed again. According to a spokesperson for the Jacksonville Police Department, if someone violates the restrictions, they will first educate them on those restrictions, ask them to leave and then, if needed, take enforcement actions.