FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Days after Duval County opened its beaches, some residents in other counties are hoping for the same.
But Fernandina Beach Commissioners decided Tuesday night that its city’s beaches will remain closed.
“I don’t think we should base our decision on what another city nearby is maybe doing,” said Fernandina Beach Mayor Johnny Miller.
The Fernandina Beach Commissioners agreed, now is not the time to reopen the beaches unless Gov. Ron DeSantis says to do it.
According to the commissioners, Fernandina Beach’s population is one-third 65-years-old or older. As some of the most vulnerable people to the virus, they don’t want to put them or anyone else at risk by opening the beaches too soon.
“We have to be real careful with what we do,” said Vice Mayor Len Kreger.
“What I believe is that the City of Fernandina Beach reopens access to the beaches at the same time with the same conditions when the governor and Florida Department of Health decide it’s safe to open the beaches,” said Dr. Chip Ross.
The commissioners are also worried about the state of Georgia now that it has started a slow reopening of many businesses. Some of those visitors will want to come to Florida beaches.
“We know what will take place,” commissioner Mike Lednovich said. “We will have people back in facilities especially gyms and the likelihood is that the virus will spread we are so close to Georgia we will have Georgians at our beaches so that is another dynamic that we need to consider in opening our beaches.”
As of Tuesday, Nassau County had 46 positive COVID-19 cases, while Duval had 909 cases. The commissioners said they want to do whatever they can to keep the cases low in their city and county.
“If Fort Clinch were to open up and we didn’t, my concern would be everyone would go to that area,” Miller said. “If the state opens up we would almost have to open up for safety reasons.”
If Governor DeSantis makes a decision to open the beaches then the Fernandina Beach commissioners will reconsider opening the beaches.