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An easing of some restrictions brought by the coronavirus will give people places to go this weekend.
St. Johns County beaches will be open but only from 6 a.m. to noon daily. The announcement came Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said beaches in Duval would reopen. In Duval hours are 6 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Social distancing must be practiced at all the beaches. Allowed activities include walking, swimming, fishing, surfing, biking and fishing. St. Johns is also opening its public parking lots again although cars may not go on the beaches. Dr. Dawn Allicock, director of Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County, said as long as social distancing is followed “getting exercise and fresh air can be beneficial for our citizens’ physical and mental health. Curry cited a flattening curve in coronavirus activity as the reason he’s willing to try reopening beaches. No organized group activities including picnics and sports events are allowed.
Flagler County is reopening parks and trails this weekend on a limited trial basis. The decision announced by Flagler County Administrator Jerry Cameron took city leaders in Flagler Beach, Bunnell and Palm Coast by surprise. Parks with trails within cities won’t be reopened. Parks open include Bing’s Landing, Herschel King, MalaCompra Mountain Bike Trail, Pellicer Community Park, Russell Landing, Bull Creek Boat Launch, Shell Bluff Park, Hidden Trails and Princess Place. Beachfront parks remain closed. Group activities are prohibited. So far, beaches remain closed.
Latest coronavirus figures show Putnam County with 49 cases as of Thursday evening. The three latest people testing positive are all from Palatka and include a 40-year-old Palatka man, a 46 year old woman and a 66-year-old woman. In St. Johns County the number of those testing positive has gone up to 182. Flagler County is at 50 cases, according to state Department of Health figures.
As more government meetings are held online, hackers are coming up with new attacks. Many organizations including ones in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties are using software including Zoom to broadcast. The McIntosh County Commission in Georgia found itself under attack during a Tuesday meeting when those online confronted with sexually explicit images. The FBI says it’s been getting multiple reports of similar attacks around the country.
The Putnam County School District has made it official – no proms this year. That’s another blow to the Class of 2020. Superintendent Rick Surrency said he had consulted with high school principals in making the decision. It’s a blow to seniors and juniors, but also to the many businesses that cater to the industry ranging from clothing stores to florists to limo services.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is reaching out to help small business. Their foundation has launched Save Small Business Fund that will provide $5,000 supplemental grants to small employers in economically vulnerable communities. The Putnam Chamber of Commerce posted the information noting applications will be accepted beginning Monday, April 20.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.