Jacksonville continues to emerge from COVID-19 related economic shutdowns, with the zoo and beaches the latest to return to normalcy.
Mayor Lenny Curry on Tuesday stressed progress in the fight against the virus, including a positive testing rate now below 4%.
Lauding the “amazing” people of the city, Curry discussed next steps.
He said the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens would be reopen to the public starting this coming Mother’s Day weekend.
The Mayor expects a “cautious reopening,” with prepaid tickets available online for patrons, and masks and temperature checks for staffers. Additionally, masks will be available for the public.
As well, the Mayor addressed the full reopening of Jacksonville’s beaches beginning Wednesday, with “no restrictions on activities.” Curry urged social distancing.
“Let us all be responsible and not let a few mess this up for the rest of us,” the Mayor said.
Jacksonville closed its beaches in March, only to brook controversy when the seashore was reopened in a limited capacity for exercise only as what Curry called a “first step.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended local policymakers repeatedly since, using Jacksonville as a contrast to the “doom and gloom” pushed by media.
Additionally, Curry addressed the $40 million citizen relief program facilitated by $159 million in federal coronavirus recovery funding.
The city set up appointments for applicants, which began last Monday. Progress is being made, he said.
A total of 40,000 Jacksonville households impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns are eligible for a $1,000 preloaded debit card. Gross income must be below $75,000 and applicants must prove they have lost at least 20% of their income due to economic shutdowns related to COVID-19.
More than 1,500 applicants have been approved so far.
Curry has the discretion to move $25 million more, should there be a need for a second wave of relief.
The Mayor noted the appointments take less than half an hour, and vowed that appointments would not stop until all monies are disbursed.