Mayor says Jacksonville could be ready for phase two of reopening “in the very near term.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said effective May 18 he is lifting his work-from-home executive order, his last as the city reopens from the COVID-19 shutdown.
At his virtual news briefing May 12, Curry said while he is removing the mandate, he hopes for employers to continue to offer the option for employees to work from home, especially those with children or who are more susceptible to contracting the virus.
“I know I’ve talked to a number of folks who have told me their employees are going to continue in this form of work from home for the foreseeable future,” he said. “For those that can, I think that’s responsible behavior.”
Curry said he and his team will work on a plan to bring city employees back starting May 18.
As infection rates decline, Curry said he told Gov. Ron DeSantis that Duval County is ready to enter phase two of reopening “in the very near term.”
Curry said he expects the City Council to pass resolution 2020-254 on May 12 to suspend the enforcement of the city’s zoning code related to outdoor restaurant and retail activity.
In his May 7 press briefing, Curry said he was working with District 11 City Council member Danny Becton to relax the code requirements. Restaurant seating could be allowed in parking lots, or in front of establishments, but cannot block the sidewalk or right of way.
It would also allow for outdoor retail displays and sale of merchandise.
“This is additional flexibility for social distancing until the various regulations on the establishments are repealed,” Curry said.
Since businesses, like restaurant dining rooms, were allowed to reopen May 4 with limitations, Curry said the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has received some complaints about rules not being followed.
“In all the situations we responded to, we got compliance from the community and the organizers of the event,” said JSO Director Mike Bruno. “We’ve been able to disband those gatherings without any enforcement actions.”
Curry added that he and his wife went out to eat twice over the weekend, where he observed people following the guidelines.
“People were being responsible, they weren’t on top of each other,” Curry said. “It was very responsible behavior for these times we’re in.”
The city also is continuing to issue $1,000 prepaid debit cards to qualifying residents.
Since the city implemented the Mortgage, Rent and Utility Relief Program, it has issued $11.5 million of the $40 million program.
As of noon May 12, Duval County had recorded 1,086 coronavirus cases, 190 hospitalizations and 29 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.