Labor Day crowds fill Jacksonville Beach, restaurants

Beachgoers appeared to be keeping their distance from each other on the sand

Crowds and rough waters at the beaches on Labor Day
Crowds and rough waters at the beaches on Labor Day

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Crowds of people slowly made their way out to Jacksonville Beach on Labor Day, but the rough conditions out on the water were consistent.

At last check, Jacksonville Beach lifeguards said no one had been rescued Monday, although the waves were picking up.

“It’s rough trying to maintain it. We try not to go too far because it hits you really, really hard,” said beachgoer Johnny Williams.

On the sand, the crowds were kept apart.

“I feel safe. I brought my mask just in case we get close to people. But it’s very spread apart. People are very socially distanced and things like that, so I definitely feel safe being here,” said beachgoer Amaya Johnson.

Johnson said she didn’t see herself sticking around for the nightlife at the beach.

That’s definitely been one thing I’ve been staying away from — large crowds and parties and things like that just because it’s so unsafe and it’s so uncertain right now,” she said. “But with here, it’s at least spread out, so I feel comfortable here.”

Others had already made their way inside the bars and restaurants along First Street before sundown.

Busy Labor Day Holiday at Jacksonville Beach
Busy Labor Day Holiday at Jacksonville Beach

Bars have taken a hit since the coronavirus pandemic began, but the Labor Day holiday brought in decent crowds as they tried to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Signs informing customers of the rules could be seen before entering bars along Jacksonville Beach. The Wine Bar had a sign saying, “COVID compliant capacity at 50%.” The Wreck Tiki Lounge said, “no mask, no service.”

Bars that just sell alcohol are still not allowed to open under state guidelines.

A few people going into bars told News4Jax they feel the businesses are doing what they can.

“The beach bars are implicating what they have to do to make sure everyone is safe and having a good time,” said Marquis Toliver. “I think they are doing a pretty good job.”

“They are busy. It’s not super packed, but it’s definitely, maybe, a little more crowded than they should be. But they’re fine. It’s fun,” said Michael Sidor. “A lot of people are wearing masks, but as soon as you walk in the bar, they take it off.”

In June, several Jacksonville Beach bars closed due to COVID-19 cases and then reopened.

The governor said last week he hopes to have bars reopen soon, but no exact date has been announced.

Jacksonville Beach police reminded those who were drinking to do so safely and reiterated that there is no drinking in public on the beach proper.

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