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Coronavirus US: Florida beaches to start reopening this evening | Daily Mail Online

Beaches in Jacksonville, Florida will be among the first in the United States to reopen to the public this evening following President Trump’s announcement that states can decide themselves when to lift restrictions. 

Republican Mayor Lenny Curry said he is letting the public back onto Duval County beaches at 5pm Friday for ‘essential activities only’ because he is ‘encouraged’ by the rate of infections and hospitalizations and said there is evidence they are flattening the curve.

‘This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,’ he said on Thursday. ‘Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors.’  

With cases still rising in Florida, the beaches re-opening goes against Trump’s recommendations in his three-phase plan that infection rates should have declined for 14 days before re-opening begins. 

Florida officials, including Gov. Ron De Santis, were criticized early on in the pandemic for not closing the beaches during spring break. Shocking photos from March show huge crowds frolicking on the sand and ignoring social distancing advice.

The number of new cases in 24 hours in Duval County dropped from 43 on April 13 to 17 on April 15, however hospitalizations remained the same with 63 each day over the last 48 hours. Neither have dropped consistently in two weeks and the total number of infections stands at 780.

The state reported a death toll of 668 on Thursday, a 24 hour increase of 54. There are now more than 23,300 cases of COVID-19 in Florida.  

Curry’s move means residents can go for a walk, swim, surf, run or fish, as long as they adhering to social distancing guidelines. However, sunbathing, camping overnight and gatherings of more than 50 people will be banned. People have also been warned to enter the water at their own risk as lifeguards will not be on duty. 

Jacksonville is one of the first major metropolitan areas to open their beaches. Santa Cruz in California also lifted restrictions to allow surfing for the first time since a lockdown was implemented.  

Beaches in Jacksonville, Florida will be among the first in the United States to reopen to the public this evening following President Trump ‘s announcement that states can decide themselves when to lift restrictions 

Jacksonville Beach pictured deserted during the coronavirus pandemic. The state of Florida  reported a death toll of 668 on Thursday, a 24 hour increase of 54 deaths since Wednesday evening’s update

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Mayors of the Jacksonville neighborhoods with beaches have said they expect huge crowds when they re-open.

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said: ‘If we have to close the beach again, we’ll do it. Safety is still our top priority.’ 

‘This not a time to lounge. This is not a time to party. This is a time to exercise and keep moving,’ Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser added. 

Most other Florida counties, including neighboring Nassau and St. Johns, have kept their beaches closed in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. Beaches in Glynn County over the state line in Georgia have been open since April 3 for exercise only. 

It follows statements from the Trump administration, alongside the three-phase plan, that suggest re-openings will begin at a local rather than national level. 

His statement has sparked confusion among leaders over when the process can begin, with many states looking to move forward quicker than others. 

Among the first states to move to Phase One appear to be states that Trump carried in 2016 that are led by Republican governors, while a number of urban centers including New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. continue to be hit hard.

Axios reported that Texas and Florida, both critical parts of coalition, would ‘set the standard’ for reopening. Alabama, and Mississippi are ‘expected to move quickly,’ sources told the publication.

On Friday morning, the head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, indicated that the first openings might come at a local level rather than a state level.  

Nationwide, a total of 4,951 Americans died in the 24-hour period ending at 8pm Thursday, an announcement which came just minutes after the president delivered remarks to the nation about the need to reopen as quickly as possible.

Trump declared the nation is in the ‘process’ of winning the war against the coronavirus, and announced the new phased return toward normalcy last night, even as deaths and infections in the nation continued to rise.

The reopening of the beaches in Jackson were deemed as premature by some. 

‘This is really a crazy bad idea,’ Jacksonville resident Deborah Melvin told ABC News.  ‘I’m afraid. I’m afraid for myself. I’m afraid for my family. Everybody should use their common sense.’ 

Trump last night further backed away from his claim of having ‘total’ authority on when to reopen the country – and told Americans he would ‘allow’ governors to reopen at their discretion. 

But his administration’s three-phase guidelines provided only a general idea of how and when states would be able to graduate to a point where their citizens could congregate, work, get educated, and dine in public. 

The number of new cases in 24 hours in Duval County dropped from 43 on April 13 to 17 on April 15, however hospitalizations remained the same with 63 over the last two days. Neither have dropped consistently in two weeks

A skater rides in a public park amid the coronavirus outbreak. Going forward, the beaches will be open from 6am to 11am every morning and 5pm to 8pm every evening

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 16. Nationwide, a total of 4,951 Americans died in the 24-hour period ending at 8pm Thursday, an announcement which came just minutes after the president delivered remarks to the nation about the need to reopen as quickly as possible

Jacksonville Beach pictured on March 15. ‘This is really a crazy bad idea,’ Jacksonville resident Deborah Melvin said. Florida officials, including Gov. Ron De Santis, were criticized for not closing the beaches during spring break as COVID-19 cases started to spread

Since the closures, most beaches around Florida have been left deserted. Empty life guard chairs are seen dotted along Jacksonville Beach 

He said states would make decisions on when to reopen – a turnaround from what he said on Monday, when his bold pronouncements brought a rebuke from New York Gov. Andrew Como, who said the president is not a king. 

There was ongoing confusion Friday about which parts of the country would reopen first and under what conditions. 

A total of 4,951 Americans died in the 24-hour period ending at 8pm Thursday, which came just minutes after the president delivered remarks to the nation about the need to reopen as quickly as possible. 

The head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, indicated that the first openings might come not on a state-by-state basis but county-by-county. 

‘There’s a number of jurisdictions that are very close to having that capability,’ he said.

The guidelines state that an area must show declining infection over 14 days. Redfield added Friday that it must be declining ‘consistently.’

Santa Cruz in California also lifted restrictions to allow surfing for the first time since a lockdown was implemented

The head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfield, indicated that the first openings might come not on a state-by-state basis but county-by-county

He said it was ‘really, really important that the outbreak in these jurisdictions is really declining consistently over a two-week period’ for reopening to occur. But he said there are currently a number of jurisdictions with ‘have limited activity’ for spread of the disease.

Redfield pointed to the ability to conduct rapid testing and contact-tracing, as well as being able to test individuals who present a ‘flu-like’ illness. It was not immediately clear which jurisdictions, if any, have that capability now.

Among the first states to move to Phase One appear to be states that Trump carried in 2016 that are led by Republican governors, while a number of urban centers including New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. continue to be hit hard.

Axios reported that Texas and Florida, both critical parts of coalition, would ‘set the standard’ for reopening. 

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