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No time restrictions at Duval County beaches; activity restrictions remain in place

Beginning May 4, beach hours will be unrestricted but other restrictions on allowed activities remain in effect

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The cities of Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach will be opening beaches on Monday with no time restrictions, the City of Jacksonville Beach announced Friday.

The city said activity restrictions and social distancing guidelines remain in place, but time restrictions will be lifted beginning at 6 a.m. on May 4.

The city said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry will alter the existing executive orders to allow for beach time restrictions to be lifted.

Guidelines for beach activities include:

· Participating in recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines

· Allowed activities: walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, and surfing

· Not allowed: sunbathing, towels, blankets, chairs, coolers, grills, etc.

· Keep moving, and remain active in groups of 10 or fewer, with at least 6 feet distance between groups

“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,” Curry said during a virtual news conference this week. “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 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 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.