During the coronavirus pandemic, most of the country has found itself shutdown in an effort to slow down the spread of the disease. President Donald Trump has advocated a three-step plan in reopening the economy, explaining that each state will have control in when to begin lifting restrictions in their respective areas.
For Florida, one restriction found itself voided as Jacksonville reopened its beaches. The city did open things back up with some limits in terms of activities that can be done on the beach and hours of operation. When access was allowed, many residents flooded onto the beach. A day after restrictions were lifted, Jacksonville Beach police stumbled across a murder suspect. Officers discovered 30-year-old Mario Matthew Gatti after questioning him when he was seen sitting close to the dunes, which is not allowed under the new rules.
He was later taken into custody after officers discovered his connection to a deadly shooting outside of Pittsburgh. Gatti also was charged with providing false information to a law enforcement officer and possession of a new legend drug without a prescription, according to News 4 Jax.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry became defensive after seeing the backlash from the media in the city's decision to reopen the beaches. "We need methodical steps to open our cities," Curry wrote on Twitter. "Shutting down cities indefinitely is not an option. National media has responsibility here. I'm gonna lead a step by step way forward. Governors and mayors will do the same. National media please think responsibly before u publish."
Spoke to Sheriff Williams @jsosheriff a few minutes ago. He said all Beaches are pretty much clear and They , Deputies @JSOPIO , had no issues neither did the beaches agencies....the community responded. Good work Jacksonville.— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) April 18, 2020
Same section of Jacksonville Beach, seconds apart from a different angle. About 30 people in one city block, but with creative photography I can make it either looked packed or empty. People are going to see what they want to see. pic.twitter.com/3VI7SUbS0t— Jon McGowan (@JonMcGowanFL) April 18, 2020
Curry has been active on social media retweeting various posts about the success of the beaches reopening. One of those included a set of two photos one photographer captured, which displayed how angles can tell two different stories in regards to what the beaches actually look like amid the concerns of social distancing. This comes after infectious disease experts slammed him on his decision and called the move "premature."