JACKSONVILLE (CBSMiami) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says it is time for people in Florida to start enjoying the great outdoors so he is reopening state parks on Monday, May 4.
DeSantis made the announcement during a press conference at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville on Friday.
"Today I am announcing as part of phase one beginning Monday May 4th, Florida's world renown state park system will be opening. Opening parks back up is consistent with my safe smart step by step plan to reopen Florida. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency we've made decisions based on data, facts and science." He added, "I think we've seen enough about COVID-19, I think the science backs it up, that outdoor transmission is less likely than transmission in enclosed environments."
WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE HERE
Visitors will be asked to practice proper social distancing and to limit group size to 10 or less and to stay six feet apart.
The selected reopened state parks will have limited facilities. Reopened beach areas allow visitors access to active recreation only. This includes walking, jogging, swimming and fishing. No sunbathing, chairs, canopies or coolers are allowed in beach areas at this time.
Reopened parks will resume normal operation hours of 8 a.m. to sunset, with the exception of beach areas. Access to beach areas will have reduced daily hours that may vary locally along with reductions in visitor capacity to ensure social distancing.
Julia Woodward, chief executive officer of the Florida State Parks Foundation, welcomed the announcement that parks will be allowed to reopen.
"Numerous studies have shown that nature is actually good for our health and well-being, and Florida's state parks are the ideal place to commune with nature, reduce stress levels and unwind," Woodward said in a prepared statement. "And by continuing to be ever-vigilant in practicing social distancing, our parks can also provide a safe outlet for so many."
Just two days ago, the Governor unveiled the first phase of the state's reopening plan. Under phase one, restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to reopen Monday at 25% capacity, while keeping establishments such as movie theaters, gyms, and bars closed.
Phase one does not include Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach counties, the three most populous and the hardest-hit by the virus.
State parks in South Florida are also not included in this phase one reopening. That means Oleta River State Park, The Barnacle Historic State Park, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, and Hugh Taylor Birch State Park all remain closed.
Click here to see the complete list of parks opening on May 4.
for more features.