JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Lenny Curry on Friday announced that all beaches in Duval County are closing at 5 p.m.
“If you’re on the beaches after 5 p.m., it will be considered trespassing,” Curry said. Police and lifeguards are patrolling the beaches to make sure citizens are in compliance."
The beaches will remain closed until further notice. The decision comes hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered orders beaches and gathering spots closed in two South Florida counties.
The mayor said there there will be signage notifying people of the closures at beach walkovers and access points. Some access points will be blocked off with barricades.
“Even when the beaches don’t look crowded and the tides are low, when the tides come in, the mayors of the beaches tell me you can’t help but not be able to social distance,” Curry said. “It’s like ants on a hill when the tides come in.”
Right at 5 p.m. Friday, officers and lifeguards begin driving along the beach, telling beachgoers that it was time to leave. Some tourists and visitors were not happy with the decision to close.
“This is ridiculous,” said Imanie Andrade, who was visiting from Rhode Island. “I did not know they were closing the beaches for this.”
Others support the idea.
“It’s getting serious," said Morgan Lopez, a beach visitor. “I think people should take more precaution than what they’re doing now.”
Helping the economy
Curry also spoke about the economy, saying the virus has been “catastrophic” to businesses and workers. On Friday, the mayor sent a letter to U.S. senators voicing his support for Sen. Rick Scott’s proposal to expand unemployment insurance and to impose a moratorium on mortgage payments, rent and utility bills.
“This will be a tremendous help to thousands of Jacksonville citizens and families during this crisis,” Curry said.
DeSantis has announced two different loan opportunities for small businesses: The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program and the U.S. Small Business Disaster Loan Assistance. Both offer either little or no interest loans but in the end they will have to be paid back.
Additionally, Curry spoke about the mobile testing site at Lot J, outside TIAA Bank Field. He said testing there will begin Saturday. Hours will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, and the facility does not require a doctor’s note or a scheduled appointment. However, you must be at least age 65, have an on-site temperature of 99.6 degrees or higher and respiratory symptoms.