Florida’s state parks will reopen on Monday, part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Phase 1 of reopening the state.
During a Friday morning press conference at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville, DeSantis said the decision is “consistent with his safe, smart, step-by-step plan” to reopen Florida.
This means residents of Tampa Bay can return to areas including Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, Alafia River State Park in Lithia, and Myakka River State Park in Sarasota for the first time since March 23.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency, we’ve made decisions based on data, facts and science,” DeSantis said, “and I think we’ve seen enough about COVID-19 that outdoor transmission is less likely than transmission in enclosed environments.”
DeSantis cited a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s bio defense lab that showed sunlight, heat and humidity could inhibit the growth of the virus.
“Sunlight rapidly killed the virus,” DeSantis said. “Outdoor daytime environments are lower risk for transmission of the virus than indoor environments. Sunlight kills the virus quickly and the virus is less stable overall at higher temperatures and higher humidity.”
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He added that “packing people” into tight groups could still be risky if they don’t take the proper precautions, but it is “high reward” for Floridians – especially for residents under 50 and with no health conditions, who he said are at very low risk for contracting the virus.
“People can go out, they can get sunlight, they can get fresh air, it’s good for peace of mind when they’re exercising,” DeSantis said. “That’s a good thing.”
DeSantis also credited Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who received widespread criticism for reopening beaches for recreational activity two weeks ago – well before other areas followed suit.
“At that time, there was a lot of people not from Florida but (Washington) D.C. and New York, who thought this was the most significant thing that had ever happened, that the sky was going to fall,” DeSantis said. “They did misleading pictures, acting like this was like Lollapallooza on the beach or something like that.”
DeSantis pointed to the low number of new positive coronavirus cases in Duval County since the beaches reopened there as justification for opening the state parks.
“Today, we take a step that I think is good for the people of Florida,” DeSantis said. “People have been cooped up even though the whole time I wanted people to be getting recreation.
“There were only so many options, so now we have more options and I think they can do it in a way that’s safe.”
For a map of parks across the state, visit the Florida State Parks website.
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