The state of Florida has the eighth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the United States, but that standing didn’t deter its governor from letting Sunshine State residents hit the beach.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is allowing counties to reopen some of their beaches as of Friday after many were shut down or restricted access due to a coronavirus outbreak, according to Complex.
Among the counties that are reopening beaches is Duval County. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced that the county shores would reopen with the provision that beachgoers only walk, take care of pets, fish, hike, surf and swim.
“Folks, this could be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life, but please respect and follow these limitations,” Curry said. “We’ll get back to life as we know it, but we must be patient.”
Jacksonville residents were quick to take advantage of the state’s decision to relax restrictions. One Twitter user pointed out that Jacksonville Beach was being put to use within 30 minutes of the shutdown order being lifted.
Jacksonville Beach reopened 26 minutes ago. This is a live picture. pic.twitter.com/tC6voQ3BAn
— Travis Akers (@travisakers) April 17, 2020
According to the Florida Department of Health, Duval is in the top 10 of Florida’s counties with reported cases of coronavirus. More than 810 COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths have been recorded in the county.
In a news conference, DeSantis gave his approval for counties to individually decide when they could reopen their respective beaches and park, provided that citizens adhere to social distancing measures.
“Do it in a good way. Do it in a safe way,” the first-term governor stated.
Florida had shutdown much of its sandy coastline after officials initially refused to do so in March. The state changed its mind after several college students potentially contracted the fast-spreading coronavirus while on spring break. Revelers gave coronavirus fears a cold shoulder, as depicted in a viral video that led to a shutdown of Miami’s South Beach and tourist attractions.
Florida currently has nearly 25,000 cases of coronavirus as of Saturday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.