• Minutes after beaches in North Florida were reopened by the governor at 5 p.m. on Friday, hundreds of locals flooded the sand. 
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced that some beaches and parks in his state could reopen less than three weeks into his statewide stay-home order.
  • DeSantis urged residents to limit their beach activity to exercise and to avoid gathering or coming with 6 feet of others.
  • But many beachgoers in Jacksonville didn’t appear to be following the government’s social distancing guidelines as they sunbathed and gathered with friends on Friday evening. 
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Minutes after beaches in North Florida were reopened by the governor at 5 p.m. on Friday, hundreds of locals flooded the sand. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced that some beaches and parks in his state could reopen less than three weeks into his statewide stay-home order.

DeSantis urged Floridians to adhere to the social distancing guidelines issued by himself and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which asks that people stay at least six feet away from others and he limited beach activity to exercise, telling residents not to congregate. 

Still, many beachgoers in Jacksonville didn’t appear to be following the government’s order as some sunbathed and gathered with friends on Friday evening. 

The rush came on the same day that Florida saw 1,400 new infections — the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases yet. As of Friday, the state, which has become a hotspot of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, had reported over 24,000 cases of the virus and nearly 700 deaths.

—Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) April 18, 2020

DeSantis, who initially left it up to local officials to close their beaches and other establishments, said at a Friday news conference that some counties could start reopening their beaches if they wanted, adding that it was important for people to get fresh air, the Associated Press reported.

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

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said beaches in Duval County would reopen from 6 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Meanwhile, St. Johns County said it would reopen its beaches from 6 a.m. to noon daily.

People play a game of Spike Ball on the beach in its first open hour on April 17, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Fl.

People play a game of Spike Ball on the beach in its first open hour on April 17, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Fl.

David Rosenblum/Getty Images


DeSantis faced backlash after initially refusing to issue a statewide order closing Florida’s beaches in March during spring break, leaving local governments to deal with the influx of young people who came to their cities.

—City of Jacksonville (COJ) (@CityofJax) April 17, 2020

People crowded the beaches in its first open hour on April 17, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Fl.

People crowded the beaches in its first open hour on April 17, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Fl.

David Rosenblum/Getty Images


Dominic-Madori Davis contributed to this report. 

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