Beaches officials preparing for potentially busy weekend

‘We will shut it down’ if people don’t follow the rules, Jacksonville Beach mayor warns

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A lot has happened in the week since Jacksonville reopened its beaches on a limited basis to those seeking exercise.

The city became a magnet for national attention, from news organizations scrutinizing the decision to infectious disease specialists questioning it to Twitter users who made #FloridaMorons a trend.

News4Jax has been monitoring foot traffic at the beaches daily, especially ahead of this weekend, which would have been the annual opening of the beaches parade.

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But while beachgoers won’t see the festivities and parties they’ve come to expect over the years, officials nevertheless still anticipate some big crowds could show up.

“We are watching every single day the impacts of the virus on our citizens,” Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said. “Every single day we’re making decisions to keep this going. And if for any reason we find out there’s problems, or people aren’t adhering to the rules, we will shut it down."

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Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach are open from 6 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. daily, but only to those who are walking, running, biking, fishing and surfing.

Police in all three communities are dedicating extra resources and personnel to head off any crowds this weekend. Officials are also asking people to let officers do their jobs.

“Please don’t approach other people and tell them what they need to do,” Latham said. “If you have some concerns about safety, call our nonemergency number for the police department, which is 270-1661, and we will send an officer out on an ATV.”

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