Florida may use Jacksonville as model for reopening beaches

Re-Open Florida Task Force to make recommendations to governor by Friday

Jacksonville's beaches were among the first in the nation to reopen so mayors and resort owners around Florida want to use that as a model for the rest of the state.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry took center stage Wednesday morning’s meeting of Gov. Ron Desantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force working group.

As Jacksonville was one of the first cities to open up its beaches in the nation, mayors from across Florida and beachside hotel/resort owners on a conference call were very interested in hearing Curry talk about how limited access to the beach is working in Duval County.

While Curry’s model was met with skepticism nationally and even ridicule on social media, it was well received by task force members who think it could be used as a model for their communities.

Curry talked about the limited morning and evening hours for beach access and how there have been no real problems for Jacksonville. Mayors from other cities were interested in Duval County’s regulations forbidding sunbathing and gathering in groups, as well as rules restricting coolers, chairs, blankets and towels laid out on the sand.

Jacksonville’s mayor said one of the most important things about reopening the beach is the way the rules are enforced.

″Make sure you have a presence -- just the presence of police, fire and rescue. People want to behave responsibly, sometimes you just have to remind them not to congregate, stop or get in compact spaces," Curry told the group. "Just think it through. When you open. People have been in their homes now for weeks so you’re going to get a lot of people the moment it opens trying to get access. So you have to figure out locally how to manage that.”

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The Re-Open Florida Task Force is also hearing from leaders in the food, real estate, retail, transportation and recreation, agriculture, finance and health care. All of the recommendations made throughout the week will be forwarded to an executive committee to finalize recommendations scheduled to to to DeSantis by the end of the week.

Speaking today to other Florida mayors, and beachside resort owners, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry talked about how limited beach access is working right now in Duval County.

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