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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 17, 202011:40 AM EST

DeSantis orders Florida bars, nightclubs closed for 30 days

The governor is limiting beachgoers to groups of 10 with a 6-foot distance.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered all bars and nightclubs statewide to close at 5 p.m. March 17 and remain closed for the next 30 days as officials attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

In a 10:50 a.m. news conference, DeSantis said the new restrictions will follow a similar decision in California and the latest guidance released March 16 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the White House.

President Donald Trump said March 16 in a White House news briefing that guidance includes limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people.

The governor said his administration also will limit restaurants statewide to 50% normal capacity. This follows local orders March 16 from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry limiting the capacity of gathering places and “nonessential retail” outlets in Duval County to no more than 50 people.

DeSantis will advise the Florida Board of Governors to move state university and colleges to remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester. He said he expects an official announcement from the board today.

As of 5 p.m. March 16, the Florida Department of Health reported 160 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in the state.

City Director of Public Affairs Nikki Kimbleton said the mayor will hold a 3 p.m. news conference March 17.

DeSantis said people cannot gather in groups of more than 10 people on Florida’s beaches and must keep more than 6 feet of distance between people. 

“I think some of the steps we’re taking will reduce density, reduce crowds and that’s the best thing we can do at this point,” he said.

Kimbleton said City Hall received multiple emails and phone calls March 17 about Duval County business and venues not following the city order. 

She said at least 30 city code enforcement officers will be sent out March 17 to distribute written guidance to help businesses come into compliance. 

As of 11:25 a.m. March 17, the order does not apply to grocery stores and other building uses such as manufacturing facilities, office buildings, warehouses and fulfillment centers.

She said that city officials could require businesses to shut down if they do not comply with Curry’s mandate. 


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