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

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