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Starting Monday, Beaches Open Normal Hours; Curry Also Repealing Hotel, Lodging Orders

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced that he is repealing his executive order on hotels and lodging establishments to only take in essential personnel.

The executive order has been in effect since March 31. 

Curry said he put the order in place to prevent lodging establishments from being overwhelmed with spring breakers.

“That is no longer a threat we face,” Curry said at Tuesday’s press conference.

The mayor said he will work with the lodging industry to provide assistance and guidance on how to reopen these establishments safely, so they still follow social distancing guidelines.

That includes additional sanitation, spacing seating tables out, and avoiding lines of people.

Curry also announced that beginning May 4, the beaches in Duval County will be open for normal hours - 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The activities allowed on the beach are still the same, including walking, swimming, biking, fishing, and surfing. Large groups gatherings are still not allowed, and beachgoers still can’t bring a towel or beach chair to lie on.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

“The three beaches mayors and I are grateful with how the public has responded to the restrictions in the past and asked them to continue to do so and not ruin this for everyone,” Curry said.

For further reopening plans, Curry said his office will wait for the statewide ‘safer-at-home’ order to expire this Thursday before giving an exact date.

“We are coordinating with the governor's office on how we get certain non essential businesses back to work,” Curry said. “We hope to be able to announce detailed information and a timeline by the end of this week.”

Curry said it’s his goal to get some businesses up and running with social distancing guidelines by next week. Other non-essential businesses, like movie theaters and hair and nail salons, will need to wait longer for Curry’s office to make more plans.

The $159 million stimulus package passed Monday by City Council has also been signed into law by Curry. Forty million dollars of the package will go to 40,000 Duval County households in need of help paying rent, mortgage and utility bills. Another $35 million will help fund six new testing sites for six months.

Stephanie Burch, the City Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, said that the website and phone line where people can apply for the $1,000 prepaid card will be up and running within the next week.

Most of the process will be done virtually, but Burch said there will be appointments where people can come pick up the cards.

“The main thing is people show up at their appointment time, not early,” Burch said. “Follow our instructions for social distancing and all of the processes that we have in place.”

Burch said the cards can’t be transferred into a bank account or used at an ATM. Instead, they can be used at an online retailer or in-person. If cards are lost, Burch said there will be a replacement option.

Another $20 million is being allocated to entities that are operating in city-owned facilities, but Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Jordan Elsbury said before those organizations can receive money, the city will need to get approval from the City Council.

The number of positive cases compared to the total number of people tested in Duval County continues to dip, as the percentage now hangs at 4.5%, according to Curry.

At the time of this story’s publication, 976 positive cases have been reported in Duval County with 20 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Former WJCT News reporter