Crowds of beachgoers have charged on to the beaches in Jacksonville, Florida after the shores reopened to the public despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Jacksonville beaches reopened at 5pm on Friday under limited hours and use restrictions, even as Florida recorded its highest single-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases.
Photos and video from the scene show enthusiastic residents cheering as they ran out onto the sand after weeks of closures.
Florida Department of Health said confirmed cases in the state rose by 1,421 Friday, the highest one-day number yet. The total number of cases in Florida is now 24,753. The number of deaths has reached 726, an increase of 58 in the last 24 hours.
Jacksonville’s beaches will be open daily from 6am to 11am and 5pm to 8pm for exercise such as walking and swimming only. Banned are sunbathing, chairs, towels, or loitering on the shore, and beachgoers are required to remain six feet apart.
By 8pm on Friday night, many had already left the beach – adhering to the curfew.
‘If for some reason it turns to helter skelter, we’re going to pull the plug again,’ Mayor Lenny Curry warned on Friday.
Curry said he is letting the public back onto Duval County beaches 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.’