Mayor Lenny Curry said April 28 he could not announce a timeline for reopening the city, but extended beach exercise hours and repealed an executive order limiting who could stay in Duval County hotels.
In his virtual news briefing, Curry signed a $159 million stimulus plan that will include $1,000 payments to households affected by COVID-19, ease fees for developers, provide aid to nonprofit and other businesses that partner with the city, and support COVID-19 testing and other health care infrastructure needs.
As of noon April 28, the Florida Department of Health reported 1,001 coronavirus cases in Duval County, 101 hospitalizations and 20 deaths. Curry said the 4.5% positive test rate has steadily declined in the past few weeks.
Curry said until Gov. Ron DeSantis extends, amends or lets the statewide stay-at-home order expire, he cannot make any decisions on a timeline for reopening the city. That order is set to expire April 30.
“We are working with the governor’s office on how we can get certain nonessential businesses back to work, and we hope to be able to announce detailed information and a timeline by the end of this week,” Curry said.
He said he hopes that certain nonessential businesses can reopen by next week, with “strict social distancing guidelines and CDC sanitation guidelines” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In his April 27 news briefing, Curry said businesses should begin deciding how to implement social distancing and sanitation guidelines.
A 12-member council is advising Curry on reopening the city.
He said April 28 that larger venues, gyms and nail and hair salons would need more time to plan and prepare for reopening. Georgia reopened similar businesses over the weekend, including hair and nail salons, gyms and movie theaters.
Nonessential lodgers can now stay in area hotels. Essential lodgers included law enforcement, medical workers, journalists, travelers and residents displaced and unable to return to their homes because of the COVID-19 response and others.
Curry said that order initially was signed to keep students on spring break from coming to the city, but he said that’s no longer a concern.
Curry said the repeal of the order better aligns the city with state orders that did not include those restrictions on hotels.
Beginning May 4, Duval County beaches will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for exercise and essential activities only. Those activities include walking, running, biking, swimming, walking pets and surfing.
“This is not a time to gather in groups,” Curry said. “This is for exercise. No congregating on walkways or crossovers.”
The beaches had been open during specific morning and afternoon-evening hours.
Local stimulus plan
Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Stephanie Burch said the city is working to train employees on processing applications and distributing pay cards. An appointment system will be set up in the next week so people can begin setting times to apply for the program.
Applications will be completed by appointment Downtown at the Edward Ball Building at 214 N. Hogan St. and the Jacksonville Main Library at 303 N. Laura St.