YULEE, Fla. – The Nassau County Commission voted unanimously Wednesday for a limited reopening of the beaches, from 6 a.m. to noon, with similar restrictions to what we’ve seen in the other counties: essential activities, no sunbathing, etc. But it might not happen for two weeks.
The commission wants to reopen the beaches in coordination with Fernandina Beach and the state of Florida, which has two parks still closed on Amelia Island. If the city and the state can’t agree on a coordinated reopening earlier, Nassau County would reopen its beaches on May 6.
Fernandina Beach leaders decided Tuesday not to open its beaches, noting that people would cross state lines to visit.
“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,” Fernandina Beach Commissioner Mike Lednovich said.
One possible problem is lifeguards because their training was halted because of the pandemic and the county does not currently have enough lifeguards to open sooner.
Commissioners admitted they were hesitant to talk about reopening, but with Duval and St. Johns counties to the south open at least for certain parts of the day and beaches along the Georgia coast back open, the county couldn’t ignore the issue any longer.
County Manager Mike Mullin read dozens of emails from residents, most of whom are in favor of reopening the beaches, citing the county’s low number of cases. Several say it’s also time to reopen businesses. The commission acknowledged “folks are pretty restless.”
Nassau County has 46 positive cases of COVID-19. Compared to neighboring Duval with 909 cases and Clay County with 256 cases, Nassau has one of the lowest numbers of cases in the Northeast Florida area.
However, nearly a third of Nassau’s population is people aged 65 and over, a demographic considered to be one the most vulnerable in COVID-19 outbreaks.