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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, May 5, 202001:50 PM EST

Curry reopens Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, lifts beach restrictions

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About $3 million has been distributed through the city’s COVID-19 relief program.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is reopening and sunbathing will again be allowed at Duval County beaches, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced May 5. 

Beginning May 6, sunbathing, sitting, and other beach activities will be allowed and there will be no restrictions on hours. However, Curry urged those who go to the beach to not gather in groups of 10 or more and to keep as much distance between groups as possible.

“While this is a positive step, I continue to urge the people of Jacksonville to be cautious and responsible,” he said. 

On May 9, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will reopen, with some restrictions and safety measures.

Ticket sales will be online-only and required to enter the parking lot. Zoo staff members will have their temperatures taken daily and will wear masks. Masks will be available for guests, but not required.

The zoo’s paths will be one-way and marked with signs. Hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the zoo. 

Any enclosed spaces at the zoo will be closed, as well as the gift shop, splash zone and playground. 

“The zoo is one of our city’s most treasured assets, and I’m glad to see it safely and cautiously reopen for our citizens to enjoy,” Curry said. 

For other businesses that are closed, like hair salons, nail salons and gyms, Curry said he would follow guidance from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Phase two of reopening could happen “pretty quickly,” he said. Phase one began May 4, with restaurants and retail stores allowed to reopen, with restrictions.

Phase two can begin two weeks after beginning phase one, according to CDC guidelines.

“At that time, you will see many more things begin to open up,” Curry said.

As of noon May 5, statistics showed 1,084 people tested positive for coronavirus in Duval County, 145 were hospitalized and 26 died. 

About 28,000 tests have been performed and the county’s positive rate is around 3.8% and trending downward.

Relief program

Curry said more than $3 million has been distributed in the city’s Mortgage, Rent and Utility Relief program. The $40 million program began distributing $1,000 debit cards May 4. 

The city is working 9 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week to process applications and distribute 40,000 cards. 

On average, appointments are taking about 25 minutes from start to finish, he said. 

The program is meant to help people with rent, mortgage and utility bills and ease the financial strain caused by the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Curry reminded those coming to appointments to arrive on time and have the appropriate paperwork or they will be turned away. To qualify for a card, residents must meet eligibility standards.

All appointments have been filled. 

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