Curry: Beaches Staying Closed, Curfew Possibility ‘Certainly On The Table’

Apr 7, 2020

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Tuesday despite the city receiving many calls to reopen the Beaches, on at least a limited basis, they will remain closed. 

“We reevaluate this every day,” Curry said. “I know there's been a lot of people reaching out to my office, to the mayors of the Beaches about getting people on the beach to walk, exercise, jog, surf.”

Curry said ultimately, it comes down to ability to enforce proper social distancing practices.

“If we had the resources to control people getting on the beach, and moving, continually moving and practice social distancing, it'd be a reasonable option, but we don't have the resources to police it,” Curry said. “We are in a metro we're in a city of a million people with a larger metropolitan area.”

Related: Local, State And National Coronavirus Coverage

He said he understands the public’s frustration, but safety is the top priority. 

“I know you want to get back to your activities, whether it's the beach or any number of other activities that people would like us to be back to normal on,” Curry said. “But we have to face the reality of the situation that we're in. And we have to make difficult choices.” 

During his Tuesday virtual press conference, Curry also brought up a young girl, 5-year-old Kearria Attison, who was shot and killed in the middle of a gunfight on Jacksonville’s Northside. Her 4-year-old sister was also injured in the shooting, but she is expected to survive. 

Asked if he would consider a curfew as crime continues in the midst of the coronavirus, Curry said that option is “certainly on the table” and being discussed with his team daily.

The mayor also announced that he will begin holding weekly zoom meetings with students throughout Duval County, and bring in middle and high school students into the virtual press conferences.

“Many kids have questions and concerns that I want to make sure are being addressed,” Curry said. 

With Passover and Easter falling in the same week, Curry is encouraging people to stay home and practice social distancing during the holidays. 

“Instead of being frustrated with the current situation, I encourage everyone to find a positive in this,” Curry said. “We get to spend this holy time with our families, but we get to do it safely. I've heard of families that are planning to celebrate the Passover Seder together virtually. I applaud their innovation and resiliency. Many are planning to celebrate Easter the same way on Sunday.”

The overall amount of positive cases in the county in comparison to the total number of people tested is still encouraging to Curry, as it sits below 6% at the time of this story’s publication. He said the rate is lower than other metropolitan areas in Florida. 

Curry also confirmed that after the City Council approved the Small Business Grant Program in partnership with VyStar Credit Union to help businesses get financial relief in Duval County on Monday, he signed the bill into law Tuesday. 

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.