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The beach and walkways are open, but the grass is closed in Huntington, Calif. Photo: Huntington Beach, Calif.

Lawmakers in communities along the U.S. coasts are considering reopening their beaches as the coronavirus pandemic persists and summer nears. Meanwhile, seaside business owners worry about potential losses during their busiest months.

Why it matters: The virus has already smacked the U.S. economy, leaving nearly 22 million Americans unemployed. That number could increase if businesses remain closed or refuse to hire over the summer, the Wall Street Journal notes.

The state of play: Governors and local leaders have closed beaches and boardwalks as stay-at-home orders blanketed their communities. Health care experts are expected to play a significant role in officials' decision making to reopen their tourist attractions or not, per the Washington Post.

  • Delaware Gov. John Carney said, per the Post, "Now's not the time for a vacation or tax-free shopping in our state. Our economy in Delaware relies on a strong tourism economy, and tourism here is really driven by our great beach towns. But we can't have a healthy economy until our communities are healthy."
  • New Jersey officials are confident they'll be able to restore beach and boardwalk access this summer, but they remain unsure what restrictions will look like.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it's unlikely the city will reopen its public beaches by early summer, as the city remains a hotspot.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that some parks and beaches were reopening for essential activities, including exercise. That same day, the state recorded 58 coronavirus deaths — its highest tally since the start of the pandemic, The Washington Post notes. Florida’s stay-at-home order remains in effect through April 30.

  • Jacksonville beachgoers aren't allowed to bring towels or chairs, and the beaches are operating on limited hours, the Post writes.
  • DeSantis received widespread criticism for refusing to close beaches during spring break, with dozens of students reporting they tested positive for the coronavirus after their vacations, The New York Times reports.

The bottom line: If beaches open, they could be "mobbed this summer because no one wants to get in an airplane or a cruise ship," Long Beach, N.J., Mayor Joseph Mancini told the Post.

Go deeper... In photos: Top destinations before and after coronavirus outbreak

Go deeper

Resurrecting Martin Luther King's office

King points to Selma, Alabama on a map at his Southern Christian Leadership Conference office in Atlanta in January 1965. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Contributor

Efforts to save the office where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., planned some of the most important moments of the civil rights movement are hitting roadblocks amid a political stalemate.

Why it matters: The U.S. Park Service needs to OK agreements so a developer restoring the historic Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Atlanta — which once housed King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference — can tap into private funding and begin work.

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

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