Duval County beach hours to be extended

Beginning May 4, beach hours will be extended from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Restrictions on allowed activities remain in effect

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Tuesday that beaches will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., starting Monday, May 4.

Curry said restrictions on allowed activities will remain in effect and only recreational activities consistent with social distancing -- such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, walking pets and surfing -- will be permitted.

“This is not a time to gather in groups. This is for exercise. No congregating on walkways or crossovers or sunbathing. Towels, blankets, chairs or grills are not allowed,” the mayor said during a virtual news conference Tuesday afternoon. “The three beaches mayors and I are grateful with how the public has responded to the restrictions in the past and ask them to continue to do so and not ruin this for everyone.”

Curry said Tuesday that positive trends in COVID-19 testing data led him to begin taking the next steps toward getting the city “gradually and cautiously” back to work, including the extending beach hours and repealing his executive order that prohibited all hotels, motels and other commercial lodging establishments from accepting or extending reservations for any person other than essential lodgers. The mayor also said he hoped to have some nonessential business back next week.

The extension of beach hours comes after the beaches -- which include Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic -- reopened at 5 p.m. Friday, April 17, with limitations. The reopening garnered attention from national media outlets, but Curry defended his decision, saying he reached it after daily discussions with the beaches mayors.

Duval County beaches are currently open from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for essential activities, including recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines. Sunbathing is not allowed, and towels, blankets, chairs, coolers or grills are not permitted.