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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 25, 202002:30 PM EST

City receiving complaints that employers are not following work-at-home mandate

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City Council may hold its first virtual meeting April 6.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The city is receiving complaints that some local employers are not complying with Mayor Lenny Curry’s executive order to, if possible, work from home.

In what’s become a daily virtual news conference, Curry told reporters March 25 that city officials are cataloging questions and complaints about the mandate, meant to reinforce social distancing and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The order took effect March 24. It includes Duval County’s Beaches communities and the city of Baldwin.

Curry said some complaints will warrant engagement between city officials and employers about the possible violations. He said not all the complaints fall into the executive order’s parameters.  

“Just because a complaint comes in doesn’t necessarily mean an employer is not complying,” Curry said. 

Curry warned the city could condemn buildings and disconnect water and electricity of businesses that refused to comply. 

“We don’t want to end up there,” Curry said.

The mayor’s order excludes trade, manufacturing, warehouse, grocery and essential retail jobs that can’t be done off-site.  

As of 11:21 a.m., the city recorded eight complaints from Jacksonville-area workers saying their employers are not cooperating with the work-from-home order, according to a list obtained through a public records request.

The complaints were received through the 630-CITY and the ethics hotlines.

During the news conference, Curry repeated his recommendation that employers and employees “be reasonable” and work one-on-one to see if duties can be done from home.

“Take a deep breath, work together to this happen,” Curry said. “I want you to remember, the virus doesn’t spread, we spread the virus.”

Council may resume April 6

City Council President Scott Wilson hopes to begin virtual meetings for regular business April 6. 

Via text message March 26, Wilson said Council is planning to use the Zoom videoconferencing platform to resume regular Council and standing committing meetings. Zoom is the same tool Curry uses to hold daily news briefings.

“We are testing over the next couple of days with individuals training for Council members next week,” Wilson said.

Curry said March 25 that Council officials are working with city attorneys to comply with the Florida Sunshine Law for a virtual joint meeting with the mayor and Council members to discuss resuming Council business.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-69 on March 20 waiving state statute requirements for local governments to have an in-person quorum for public meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The order does not waive any provision of the Florida Sunshine Law requiring transparency.

Wilson said special committees, like the Council Special Investigatory Committee in JEA Matters, Resilience Committee and other commissions would not restart immediately.

“Let’s get through our first standing committees before we decide on special committees,” Wilson said. 

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