Petitions Ask St. Johns County, State Officials To Reopen Florida Beaches On Limited Basis

Apr 6, 2020

More than 10,000 surfers and supporters are asking St. Johns County officials to reopen public beaches on a limited basis, while another petition is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare surfing an “essential activity" statewide. 

Gregg Matthew Mattson started the statewide petition drive, writing, in part, "We believe that it is necessary that Florida waters remain open and available to those of us who do not crowd the sand with tents or large groups of people, but instead only use the sands to walk from cars to the water.”

By late Monday morning, Mattson’s petition has garnered close to 10,000 electronic signatures on

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

The St. Johns County petition, which was nearing 11,000 electronic signatures late Monday morning, is signed by “The Surf Community,” and calls on area officials to reopen the beaches to St. Johns County residents only with valid IDs. " 

"This would allow surfers, walkers, fishermen, etc. to engage with the ocean," the St. Johns County petition, which was started by Eric Hires, says.

On Tuesday, WJCT's First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross will be discussing the petition drives. Gregg Matthew Mattson and Eric Hires are among the scheduled guests.

First Coat Connect with Melissa Ross airs weekdays at 9 a.m. on 89.9 FM and streams live in the WJCT app and on

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.