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Locals, visitors flock to Jacksonville Beach for unofficial start to summer

Ocean Rescue says there haven’t been any major crowd control issues over Memorial Day weekend

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Florida beaches have been packed with locals and visitors over the Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start to summer.

In Jacksonville Beach, there were hundreds of people near the public beach access by Joe’s Crab Shack on Sunday afternoon, though some beachgoers left as dinnertime approached.

Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes from across the country of people crowding together over the weekend.

“We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”

In Jacksonville Beach, News4Jax saw hardly anyone wearing a mask on Sunday. Around 4 p.m., it appeared groups were making an effort to space out, but there were a lot of big groups.

Around 4 p.m. Sunday, May 24, in Jacksonville, it appeared groups were making an effort to space out, but there were a lot of big groups.
Around 4 p.m. Sunday, May 24, in Jacksonville, it appeared groups were making an effort to space out, but there were a lot of big groups. (WJXT)

“It is busy. I haven’t been to a beach this busy in a while,” said Brandon Bryant, who visiting from Georgia.

Alexas Cox and Christina Douglas, who live in Jacksonville, said it was great to see people out at the beach after being in the house for a long time.

Tray Toomer, who lives in Monument, said it looked like people were trying to distance themselves from other groups.

“As much as you can at the beach,” Toomer said. “It’s jammed packed out here and, of course, it’s Memorial Day weekend, so it’s pretty crazy.”

Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue said there haven’t been any major crowd control issues over the weekend. But that hasn’t been the case in other parts of the state.

In the Tampa area along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the crowds were so big that authorities closed parking lots because they were full. And gunfire erupted Saturday night in Daytona Beach, where hundreds gathered and were seen partying and dancing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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