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Curry Announces Zoo Reopening; $3M In Household Relief Money Already Distributed

Ali the elephant takes a swim at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in this 2018 file photo.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Starting Wednesday, beachgoers in Duval County will be able to bring a towel and sit on the beach. 

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said “all restrictions” at the beaches will be lifted beginning Wednesday, but there still shouldn’t be gatherings of more than 10 people.

“Please be aware of the space around you,” Curry said. “Let's all be responsible and not let a few mess this up for all of us.”

Curry also said the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will open up this weekend, starting May 9. 

“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.

Related:  Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

To follow social distancing guidelines, ticket sales will be online only. Zoo employees will have their temperatures checked and wear masks.  Masks and hand sanitizing stations will also be available for customers.

Curry discussed other measures that the zoo outlined to WJCT News last week, including keeping some of the exhibits closed for now and a one-way pathway for visitors to follow. Zoo officials also mentioned keeping limiting capacity to 20-25% and having visitors come in for three-hour time slots. 

Other city-owned facilities, like libraries and city pools have no timeline for reopening yet. 

“I'm working with the governor's office in Phase One as we consider what additional openings in Jacksonville may look like, but I don't have answers to those types of facilities at this time,” Curry said.

The mayor provided an update on the mortgage and utility relief fund, stating that Monday saw over $3 million worth of funds go to households in need of the help. He said the average time for appointments is around 25 minutes. 

All 40,000 appointments have been claimed, but if more slots become available, the city will reach out to people directly. 

The rate of COVID-19 positivity has continuously dipped over the past four weeks, Curry said. Over 28,000 people have been tested in the county so far, with a positivity rate of 3.8%.  

Curry commented on the UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje event taking place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena this weekend, saying the bouts are “being done safely” with precautions for testing. 

“It's entertainment for people,” Curry said. “It's exposure for our city, and it's done in a responsible, safe way.”

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