Florida beach crowded within minutes of reopening as state records highest one day increase in Covid-19 cases
Coronavirus cases in Florida rose by 1,421 on Friday, the highest one-day increase since the onset of the deadly pandemic
Florida residents stormed the beaches in Jacksonville just hours after the shores were reopened for public use despite the novel coronavirus cases increasing in the state and across the country.
Jacksonville beaches reportedly reopened at 5 pm on Friday, April 17, under certain user restrictions and for limited hours on the day the state recorded its highest single-day spike in the confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Florida Department of Health, on Friday, said that the coronavirus cases in the state rose by 1,421, the highest one-day number the state has witnessed ever since the onset of the deadly pandemic. The total number of coronavirus cases in the state currently stands at 24,753, with 726 deaths.
Pictures from the beach showed enthusiastic residents cheering as they ran out onto the sand after weeks of remaining in their homes amid social distancing guidelines.
The beaches in Jacksonville will continue to remain open every day from 6 am to 11 am and 5 pm to 8 pm only for exercise, like walking and swimming, according to the Daily Mail.
Activities, like sunbathing or loitering on the shore, are banned. Beachgoers are also required to follow social distancing practices by keeping a six feet distance between themselves. Gathering of more than 10 people in the area is also prohibited. The residents have also been warned to enter the water at their own risk as there will not be any lifeguards present on duty.
Mayor Lenny Curry, in a statement on Friday, warned, saying: "If for some reason it turns to helter skelter, we're going to pull the plug again." The mayor said that he had permitted the public to go back to the beaches because he was "encouraged" by the rate of infections and hospitalizations in the region. He added that there was evidence, suggesting the infection curve was flattening.
"This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life," he said on Thursday, April 16. "Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors."
The decision was taken shortly after President Donald Trump released a three-phase plan for re-opening the states one by one if they show that the number of infections in the region is falling. The guidelines, however, do not address how to handle outdoor spaces like beaches and parks.
Florida authorities, earlier last month, were slammed for not closing the beaches during spring break despite the deadly virus spreading at a rapid rate across the country. Jacksonville is among the first major metropolitan regions to pen their beaches for public use. Reports state that Santa Cruz in California has also lifted restrictions, and is permitting surfing for the first time since a lockdown was implemented in the region to curb the spread of the virus.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States have crossed 700,000, as of Saturday, while the number of deaths has increased to 37,000. There is no official vaccine or cure for COVID-19 available in the world market yet.