Under pressure, St. Johns County closes beaches
Duval closed its beaches. St. Johns did not. [Photo: Nikki Kimbleton]

A delayed move finally undertaken.

The lack of a one-size-fits-all approach to beach closures set two neighboring counties at odds until Saturday afternoon.

While Duval County closed its beaches over a week ago, St. Johns County waited until Saturday afternoon to announce its closure.

The delayed closure of the beaches did not go unremarked by one Duval County official just hours before St. Johns took action.

Nikki Kimbleton, the spokeswoman for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, issued a stinging rejoinder to beachgoers Saturday afternoon.

“Take a good look at the St Johns County beaches today. If you’ve had to close your business or you’ve lost your job during this pandemic,” Kimbleton said, “seems there are a lot of people that just don’t care.”

“This is just such a blatant disregard. We will never #Flattenthecurve this way,” she added.

Kimbleton, a veteran of local Jacksonville television news, has rarely been so blunt about another government’s policies on social media. She hastened to add that she was not commentating in her official capacity.

Duval has taken a more buttoned up approach to the coronacrisis than its bedroom counties, with virtual news briefings. However, curfews and stay-at-home orders have thus far been resisted, a contrast to other major cities in the state

Curry, out of necessity, has attempted to direct actions without dropping the hammer.

“Sheriff Mike Williams and I have been discussing a curfew,” Curry said. “The problem is enforcing a curfew right now would put an incredible strain on our law enforcement.”

St. Johns County did take one measure to “flatten the curve,” disallowing driving on beaches, a practice that hearkens back to a time when the county was much more rural and when beach replenishment projects were not a budget perennial.

Positive tests continue to rise in both counties.

Duval is up to 120 cases as testing increased, with 22 hospitalized and three dead so far.

St. Johns: 50 positive tests so far, 11 hospitalizations, and two deaths.


Drew Dixon contributed to this post.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Erin

    March 29, 2020 at 6:39 am

    I’m so glad that everyone finally got their way. By everyone, I mean the haters out there that couldn’t handle seeing others enjoy themselves while they were stuck at home. We were at the beach every single day and didn’t see anyone abusing the privilege. We went down on both A street(younger and hip) and F st. Neither area was crowded. Lots of families enjoying the water with their children before the temps outside soar to 100. I’m ashamed of people and the jealousy that comes forward. It reminds me of little children “ he gets to do that, and I don’t” and the mentality. The midwest and the north will soon have beautiful weather. When they can’t enjoy it they will remember all the catty whining they did. The rest of Florida, you’re even worse. The mayor mentioned in this article should be ashamed of herself. She’s obviously not a mother or a grandmother. No one would lock up the children and keep them away from Mother Nature.

    • Dana

      March 29, 2020 at 10:03 am

      I am so embarrassed living in Florida with people who do not take the Coronavirus seriously. I believe last night we had 4,038 infected and we already have 56 that died. The count is rapidly rising each day. People are suffering. There are not enough tests, beds, ventilators, masks, hospitals to handle this epidemic. We have the largest elderly population in the country. They need to be cared for. Not only that, this virus affects people of all ages. No one is immune. It’s also not just happening in this country, it’s a GLOBAL pandemic. What doesn’t everyone, understand? Florida is being hit hard. We could be the next epi-center. Without social distancing, we will not be able to slow this pandemic down & flatten the curve. The sooner we do this, the quicker we will be able to get the economy back up. It’s as simple as that. We don’t want people sick & we don’t want people dead. No one wants to be isolating, but no one wants to be sick or dying, either. A little sacrifice will pay off in the long run. I wish everyone would take a step back and think about what’s going on, in the world. Stop thinking about yourself for a moment, so we can get our lives back to normal!

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