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Crowds continue to pour onto Florida beaches after reopening

Crowds of locals continue to flood beaches in Jacksonville, Florida after the shores reopened to the public Friday after being shutdown due to the cornavirus pandemic. 

Jacksonville beaches opened at 5pm on Friday during limited hours and with restrictions, even as Florida recorded its highest single-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases.

And the crowds came out for an overcast day Saturday and were seen enthusiastically biking, surfing, fishing and walking dogs as the state recorded 26,270 cases of the virus and 741 deaths. 

Jacksonville Beach is open after Mayor Lenny Curry decided to make it one of Florida’s first beaches to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic

Crowds came out for an overcast day Saturday and were seen enthusiastically biking, surfing, fishing and walking dogs

Crowds came out for an overcast day Saturday and were seen enthusiastically biking, surfing, fishing and walking dogs

The state of Florida recorded 26,270 cases of the virus and 741 deaths as they tolls continue to rise nationally

The state of Florida recorded 26,270 cases of the virus and 741 deaths as they tolls continue to rise nationally 

Jacksonville beaches opened at 5pm on Friday during limited hours and with restrictions, even as Florida recorded its highest single-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases

Jacksonville beaches opened at 5pm on Friday during limited hours and with restrictions, even as Florida recorded its highest single-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases

Longtime Jacksonville Beach resident Robert Smalling talks to DailyMail.com about the reopening of the beaches. Jacksonville Beach, Fla., is open after Mayor Lenny Curry decided to make it one of Florida's first beaches to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. April 18 2020

Vic Micolucci, a news anchor at News4Jax, talks to DailyMail.com about the reopening of the beaches. Jacksonville Beach, Fla., is open after Mayor Lenny Curry decided to make it one of Florida's first beaches to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. April 18 2020

Jacksonville residents spoke to DailyMail.com about he beach reopening Friday 

Thousands of Jacksonville residents poured onto the beaches on Friday as they reopened for the first time in weeks, but Saturday seemed to quiet down as the day was overcast

Thousands of Jacksonville residents poured onto the beaches on Friday as they reopened for the first time in weeks, but Saturday seemed to quiet down as the day was overcast 

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry decided to make it one of Florida’s first beaches to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 Vic Micolucci, a news anchor at News4Jax, spoke to DailyMail.com about the reopening of the beaches.

Jacksonville’s beaches will be open daily from 6am to 11am and 5pm to 8pm for exercise such as walking and swimming only. Banned are sunbathing, chairs, towels, or loitering on the shore, and beachgoers are required to remain six feet apart. 

‘If for some reason it turns to helter skelter, we’re going to pull the plug again,’ Mayor Lenny Curry warned on Friday.  

Curry said he is letting the public back onto Duval County beaches because he is ‘encouraged’ by the rate of infections and hospitalizations and said there is evidence they are flattening the curve.

‘This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,’ he said on Thursday. ‘Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors.’  

People were see fishing Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, as temperatures reached 80 degrees

People were see fishing Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, as temperatures reached 80 degrees 

Jacksonville's beaches will be open daily from 6am to 11am and 5pm to 8pm for exercise such as walking and swimming only. Thousands of people dashed to the beach within 26 minutes of it opening

Jacksonville’s beaches will be open daily from 6am to 11am and 5pm to 8pm for exercise such as walking and swimming only. Thousands of people dashed to the beach within 26 minutes of it opening

'If for some reason it turns to helter skelter, we're going to pull the plug again,' Mayor Lenny Curry warned

‘If for some reason it turns to helter skelter, we’re going to pull the plug again,’ Mayor Lenny Curry warned

People are seen at the beach on Friday in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The beaches reopened but only for restricted hours and can only be used for swimming, running, surfing, walking, biking, fishing, and taking care of pets

People are seen at the beach on Friday in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The beaches reopened but only for restricted hours and can only be used for swimming, running, surfing, walking, biking, fishing, and taking care of pets

A person caries a sign at the beach on Friday in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday that Duval County's beaches would open at 5pm Friday

A person caries a sign at the beach on Friday in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday that Duval County’s beaches would open at 5pm Friday

Enthusiastic residents cheered as they ran out onto the sand in Jacksonville after weeks of closures

Enthusiastic residents cheered as they ran out onto the sand in Jacksonville after weeks of closures

Over the past 14 days, the number of positive coronavirus cases in Florida has risen to 24,759. Its highest daily increase in positive cases was on Friday, with 1,421

Over the past 14 days, the number of deaths in Florida have risen to 725. On Friday, the daily death toll increased by 57 cases

Over the past 14 days, the number of deaths in Florida have risen to 725. On Friday, the daily death toll increased by 57 cases

Jacksonville beach rules under reopening

What is allowed:

  • Beaches are only open from 6am to 11am and 5pm to 8pm 
  • Walking and running
  • Biking
  • Fishing
  • Dog walking
  • Swimming
  • Surfing 

What is prohibited:

  • Sunbathing
  • Towels and blankets
  • Chairs, coolers or grills
  • Loitering on the beach 
  • Groups larger than 10 people
  • Organized sports or picnics
  • Overnight camping
  • Bathrooms remain closed 

Florida Department of Health said confirmed cases in the state rose by 1,421 Friday, the highest one-day number yet. The total number of cases in Florida is now 24,753. The number of deaths has reached 726, an increase of 58 in the last 24 hours. 

By 8pm on Friday night, many had already left the beach – adhering to the curfew.  

On Thursday, Trump laid out his three-phase plan for re-opening states one by one if they show falling case numbers. However, the guidelines did not specifically address how to handle outdoor spaces such as parks and beaches. 

Florida officials, including Governor Ron De Santis, were criticized early on in the pandemic for not closing the beaches during spring break. Shocking photos from March show huge crowds frolicking on the sand and ignoring social distancing advice. 

Mayor Curry’s move means residents can go for a walk, swim, surf, run or fish, as long as they adhering to social distancing guidelines. However, sunbathing, camping overnight and gatherings of more than 10 people will be banned. People have also been warned to enter the water at their own risk as lifeguards will not be on duty. 

Jacksonville is one of the first major metropolitan areas to open their beaches. Santa Cruz in California also lifted restrictions to allow surfing for the first time since a lockdown was implemented.  

People walk a dog at the beach on Friday in Jacksonville Beach, Florida after the shore reopened for exercise

People walk a dog at the beach on Friday in Jacksonville Beach, Florida after the shore reopened for exercise

Jacksonville beaches can only be used for swimming, running, surfing, walking, biking, fishing, and taking care of pets

Jacksonville beaches can only be used for swimming, running, surfing, walking, biking, fishing, and taking care of pets

A woman takes a photo with her phone as Jacksonville residents were allowed back onto the beaches on Friday

A woman takes a photo with her phone as Jacksonville residents were allowed back onto the beaches on Friday

Walking dogs is allowed while the beach is open, as is jogging, swimming and fishing

Walking dogs is allowed while the beach is open, as is jogging, swimming and fishing

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said: ‘If we have to close the beach again, we’ll do it. Safety is still our top priority.’ 

‘This not a time to lounge. This is not a time to party. This is a time to exercise and keep moving,’ Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser added. 

Neighboring St Johns County announced that its beaches will also be open from 6am to 12pm, seven days a week, under similar restrictions that only allow exercise.

Most other Florida counties have kept their beaches closed in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. Beaches in Glynn County over the state line in Georgia have been open since April 3 for exercise only. 

It follows statements from the Trump administration, alongside the president’s three-phase plan, outlining how re-openings will begin at a local rather than national level.  

Among the first states to push to reopen appear to be states that Trump carried in 2016 that are led by Republican governors, while a number of urban centers including New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. continue to be hit hard.

Axios reported that Texas and Florida, both critical parts of coalition, would ‘set the standard’ for reopening. Alabama, and Mississippi are ‘expected to move quickly,’ sources told the publication.

On Friday morning, the head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, indicated that the first openings might come at a local level rather than a state level.  

Nationwide, a total of 4,951 Americans died in the 24-hour period ending at 8pm Thursday, an announcement which came just minutes after the president delivered remarks to the nation about the need to reopen as quickly as possible.

Trump declared the nation is in the ‘process’ of winning the war against the coronavirus, and announced the new phased return toward normalcy last night, even as deaths and infections in the nation continued to rise.

The reopening of the beaches in Jackson were deemed as premature by some. 

‘This is really a crazy bad idea,’ Jacksonville resident Deborah Melvin told ABC News. ‘I’m afraid. I’m afraid for myself. I’m afraid for my family. Everybody should use their common sense.’ 

Trump last night further backed away from his claim of having ‘total’ authority on when to reopen the country – and told Americans he would ‘allow’ governors to reopen at their discretion. 

But his administration’s three-phase guidelines provided only a general idea of how and when states would be able to graduate to a point where their citizens could congregate, work, get educated, and dine in public. 

In this March 21, 2020 photo, signs and red flags are seen at an entrance to Jacksonville Beach while it was closed

In this March 21, 2020 photo, signs and red flags are seen at an entrance to Jacksonville Beach while it was closed

The number of new cases in 24 hours in Duval County dropped from 43 on April 13 to 17 on April 15, however hospitalizations remained the same with 63 over the last two days. Neither have dropped consistently in two weeks

The number of new cases in 24 hours in Duval County dropped from 43 on April 13 to 17 on April 15, however hospitalizations remained the same with 63 over the last two days. Neither have dropped consistently in two weeks

Residents channeled Jaws in memes when they reacted to the news Jacksonville would be re-opening the beaches

One joked that police chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Schneider, would be brought in for crowd control

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 16. Nationwide, a total of 4,951 Americans died in the 24-hour period ending at 8pm Thursday, an announcement which came just minutes after the president delivered remarks to the nation about the need to reopen as quickly as possible

He said states would make decisions on when to reopen – a turnaround from what he said on Monday, when his bold pronouncements brought a rebuke from New York Gov. Andrew Como, who said the president is not a king. 

There was ongoing confusion Friday about which parts of the country would reopen first and under what conditions. 

A total of 4,951 Americans died in the 24-hour period ending at 8pm Thursday, which came just minutes after the president delivered remarks to the nation about the need to reopen as quickly as possible. 

The head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, indicated that the first openings might come not on a state-by-state basis but county-by-county. 

‘There’s a number of jurisdictions that are very close to having that capability,’ he said.

The guidelines state that an area must show declining infection over 14 days. Redfield added Friday that it must be declining ‘consistently.’

Santa Cruz in California also lifted restrictions to allow surfing for the first time since a lockdown was implemented

Santa Cruz in California also lifted restrictions to allow surfing for the first time since a lockdown was implemented

The head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, indicated that the first openings might come not on a state-by-state basis but county-by-county

The head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, indicated that the first openings might come not on a state-by-state basis but county-by-county

He said it was ‘really, really important that the outbreak in these jurisdictions is really declining consistently over a two-week period’ for reopening to occur. But he said there are currently a number of jurisdictions with ‘have limited activity’ for spread of the disease.

Redfield pointed to the ability to conduct rapid testing and contact-tracing, as well as being able to test individuals who present a ‘flu-like’ illness. It was not immediately clear which jurisdictions, if any, have that capability now.

Among the first states to move to Phase One appear to be states that Trump carried in 2016 that are led by Republican governors, while a number of urban centers including New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. continue to be hit hard.

Axios reported that Texas and Florida, both critical parts of coalition, would ‘set the standard’ for reopening.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk