Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Will Florida Beaches And Parks Reopen? DeSantis Urges Outdoor Activity

Dunedin Causeway, a popular spot to exercise and watch sunsets, is currently closed.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants people to go outside and exercise while keeping their distances from each other, as part of efforts to slowly reopen the state.

DeSantis, who will look to recommendations from a task force on reopening businesses, schools and facilities shut down by the novel coronavirus, said the risk of transmission is “much more” minimal for people who are outdoors and not in large groups.

CORONAVIRUS:  Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

“I think that to be able to get people out in the sunshine and be able to get some fresh air, I’ve always promoted essential activities with recreation,” DeSantis said while in Fort Lauderdale at the opening of a coronavirus testing site. “You just got to do it in a way that’s going to have low risk. If you go run in your neighborhood by yourself, if you’re not coming into contact with anyone, it’s very low risk.”

Earlier in the week, DeSantis expressed concerns about a lack of physical activity by people on stay-at-home orders.

DeSantis, who was expected to name members of the task force Friday, said Southeast Florida may have a slower revival than other parts of the state, as the largest concentration of coronavirus cases have been in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. His comments came as Duval County opened beaches with restrictions Friday.

The task force is expected to follow a similar effort at the White House, where President Donald Trump issued a three-phase reopening plan on Thursday.

NEWSLETTER:  Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

DeSantis, who has left rules for beaches up to local governments, expects Florida to use the Trump plan as a “baseline.”

“It doesn’t mean that Florida is going to do every single thing they say or not say,” DeSantis said. “But that is a pretty good baseline. So, you look at different things. What does the workforce look like? Some of these businesses, letting people get back to work. I think that that is something that is very, very important.”

Trump’s guidelines for a phased reopening leave much of the decision-making to governors.

Phase one would allow restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, sports venues and places of worship to operate with physical distancing in place. Elective surgeries would also be allowed.

The second phase would seek to reopen schools and reactivate youth activities, along with bars that operate with diminished standing-room occupancy.

The final phase would resume all worksites, including visits to senior care facilities and hospitals.

The president’s proposal requires the availability of increased testing and a trending down of the number of coronavirus cases before stay-at-home orders and other restrictions are lifted.

“We do need to get to a next phase,” DeSantis said. “Maybe Southeast Florida looks a little different than the rest of the state. And I think that that would make sense.”

Duval County beaches were being reopened Friday for certain recreational activities under an order issued by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

“This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” Curry said in a prepared statement.

The order allows people to walk, bike, hike, fish, run, swim, surf and take care of pets, so long as they maintain physical distancing guidelines, with the beaches open from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

People aren’t allowed to sunbathe or bring towels, blankets, chairs, coolers and grills. No organized group activities, from picnics to sporting events, are allowed.

City golf courses have also been reopened for normal hours, with the same physical distancing guidelines.

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Jim Turner is a reporter for the News Service of Florida.