JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Local restaurants saw their first weekend with indoor dining reopen after coronavirus restrictions were loosened with phase one of Re-Opening Florida.
Eateries must keep indoor operations at 25% and for outdoor seating people must be at least six feet apart in groups of ten or less.
News4Jax checked in on the Jax Beach restaurant scene where around sundown Saturday it seemed everyone was trying to grab a bite to eat, and there were some pretty crowded spots.
There were long lines to get in to some of the restaurants on the main stretch of Jax Beach.
At sneakers sports grill tables were spaced out, and parties kept away from each other.
However, down the street at Surfer the Bar dozens of people packed the wall outside the front door waiting for a table.
Eli Butler, who was out with friends, said he was not surprised nor concerned with the crowd size.
“We’re just gonna try to get some drinks, get some food,” Butler said. “I think that with the opening of any restaurant you’re gonna have as many people that want to get in as possible so with that you’re gonna have large crowds because of the large population that does already come out to Jax Beach so I think that it’s pretty normal and expected.”
When asked if he felt safe, Butler responded that, “anywhere you go you can only feel as safe as you practice social distancing.” He recommended keeping distance from people you didn’t know and washing your hands.
Mariel Colao, another Surfer the Bar guest, shared a similar opinion.
“I think the crowd size is big, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I’m enjoying my time out and I think other people should as well,” Colao said.
News4Jax asked a manager at Surfer how their night was going and how the crowds had been. They said they didn’t have a comment.
All evening Jax Beach officers patrolled up and down 1st street, and an officer said they haven’t gotten any complaints about crowd size.
We asked another resident, Kayla Raile, what she thought of the crowd sizes.
“I believe it’s pretty natural to be honest especially for a Saturday night,” Raile said. “I believe it’s pretty it’s pretty average for the decent size.”
Bars remain closed in the state of Florida, but a lot of the popular spots in Jax Beach serve food meaning they qualify as a restaurant establishment.
The governor's Re-Opening Florida Task Force has recommended allowing restaurants to operate at 75% capacity and for bars to reopen at 50% in phase two.
Governor DeSantis has not said when the state will move to phase two.