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Beaches in Jacksonville, Florida, reopen with restrictions amid coronavirus pandemic

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FLORIDA (CBS) — Some beaches in Florida reopened Friday night, after Governor Ron DeSanits gave the green light as long as social distancing is put in place. Beaches in the north Florida counties of Duval, which includes Jacksonville, and St. John’s County opened beaches at 5 p.m. Friday, CBS Jacksonville affiliate WJAX reports.

Beaches in Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic beach will now be open from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Allowed under the guidelines are:

  • Walking and running
  • Biking
  • Fishing
  • Dog walking, which is allowed during all hours the beaches are open
  • Swimming
  • Surfing
  • Participating in recreational activities consistent with social guidelines

Prohibited under the guidelines are:

  • Sunbathing
  • Towels and blankets
  • Chairs
  • Coolers
  • Grills
  • Loitering on the beach without moving
  • Congregating in groups larger than 10 people

“This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. “Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors.”

At a press conference in Fort Lauderdale, DeSantis said Friday that he wants people to go outside and exercise while keeping their distances from each other, as part of efforts to slowly reopen the state.

“Do it in a good way. Do it in a safe way,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis was criticized in March as coronavirus was spreading for refusing to shut down spring break or close beaches. Photos and videos were posted to social media showing people flocking to beaches in Florida and ignoring social distancing guidelines. Some counties closed their beaches before others were finally closed via a state order. The statewide stay-at-home order went into effect on April 3 and lasts until April 30.

As of Friday, there have been more than 24,000 cases of coronavirus diagnosed in Florida and more than 700 people have died, according to the state Department of Health.

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