Jacksonville families hosting smaller, local gatherings this Labor Day

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — How are you spending your Labor Day this year, compared to last year?

If you’re feeling more comfortable having a small gathering, you’re not alone.

It’s been a great day to be out and about in the beaches area (near Jacksonville, Atlantic and Neptune Beach), and many are also hosting small gatherings there.

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“Excited to have a great day!” said Zack Crafton, a local neighbor.

“We’ve got three racks of ribs on here,” he pointed out on the grill. “So we’re gonna smoke these for about eight hours and then we’re gonna do some hot dogs and burgers on a grill in the back.”

He’s expecting family and friends.

“Probably about six or seven folks,” he pointed out. “Everyone is vaccinated and everyone’s gonna be outside.”

Nearby, David Sall will have guests trickle in and out.

“Mostly family, some friends,” Sall said. “There are some who will wear a whole mask while they’re in here,” he added.

And he’s taking his own precautions.

“I’m vaccinated (...) I stay a distance.”

According to the consumer data platform Civic Science, people are also nearly twice as likely to meet up in person with their loved ones for Labor Day this year as compared to last year.

The survey says traveling far from home is down, and people may change their plans to keep gatherings closer. You can see that happening in places like Neptune Beach, with people mostly hosting others in the area.

“My in-laws live in town and then we have some friends on 1st street,” Crafton pointed out.

The CDC recommends you don’t travel if you’re not vaccinated, as daily deaths jumped 131% just over the last month.

“I think as a society, we got more comfortable with the beginning of the summer and we got our hands smacked with a big spike in disease,” Sall said.

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These warnings are serving as a reminder to keep COVID-19 at bay.

“Be careful,” Sall emphasized.

“[I’m] being cautious and taking precautions,” Crafton said.