JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The mayors of Jacksonville-area beaches on Friday announced that plans to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the beach community by limiting alcohol sales after midnight, an announcement that was trumped minutes later by the state saying that all bars would halt the sales of alcohol immediately.
Their words went beyond just alcohol sales.
“We’ve got to start taking this seriously. Memorial Day was kind of a turn for the Beaches. We saw crowds out here and it was like well, there’s nothing to worry about,” said Elaine Brown, Mayor of Neptune Beach.
“And I think when we see a 30-year-old who, you know, succumbed to this disease right here … there is no age group [that is safe]. What we are seeing is a spike that is spreading rapidly, and we all need to wear a mask and as the doctor said sanitize your hands, wash your hands. We’ve been told that. And during the lockdown when we were all quarantined, our numbers were really low. And now, bars, restaurants, you know, areas that people can gather have been open, and we’re seeing the spike.”
Brown said that on the final day of May, Neptune Beach had four cases of COVID-19. On Thursday, that number had rocketed to 43.
Charlie Latham, Mayor of Jacksonville Beach, said that masks are encouraged for residents but not mandated.
“We’re asked every day whether or not we’re going to look at a requirement for masks. Masks will not be required for now,” he said. “We don’t intend to have any intention to require them. We look around the state and we see those that have required them really aren’t seen a true benefit. We’re also seeing that there are some are being sued by lawyers and we’re also seeing that some are not able to enforce it with the number of police officers they have.”
The Beaches area has been hit hard as traffic has increased as the state entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan. In Jacksonville Beach alone, more than a dozen businesses closed voluntarily on a temporary basis after employees or customers tested positive for COVID-19.
A story that made international news originated from Jacksonville Beach following a group of friends going out to Lynch’s Irish Pub on June 6. A group of 16 friends all tested positive for COVID-19. Lynch’s closed down voluntarily for a deep cleaning.