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Jax Daily Record Monday, Apr. 27, 202005:10 PM EST

Curry urges business to prepare for reopening economy

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Mayor says social distancing measures will limit crowds.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry urged restaurants, retailers and other businesses to start health and safety planning to resume operation because Duval County is meeting federal coronavirus testing benchmarks to begin a phased economic reopening. 

At his virtual news briefing April 27, Curry did not provide a date for reopening, but said businesses should begin deciding how to implement Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for social distancing and sanitation. 

“It is time for retailers and restaurants to start thinking about the ability to space tables, the ability to protect entry points, maybe think about reservations only,” Curry said. “Again, none of this guidance has been issued yet with specificity, but this is what we’re thinking about.

“Masks for employees, the ability to disinfect — start thinking about that now,” Curry said.

Curry said April 23 that he wants the first phase of a reopening strategy to begin in May and “not late May.”

A 12-member advisory council of local government, health care and business professionals is advising Curry on the reopening. 

Curry said the city is “consistently meeting the requirements” of a Phase I reopening under White House Opening Up America Again guidance.

The White House criteria include a downward trajectory in COVID-19 and influenza over a 14-day period, the ability to maintain virus testing capacity and the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients in traditional hospitals. 

Curry said 4.6% of Duval County’s coronavirus tests have returned positive as of April 27, the lowest point since the state and city began keeping those statistics. 

The Florida Department of Health reported 990 positive cases of coronavirus in Duval County as of 8 a.m. April 27. It said 95 patients had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and there were 19 deaths.

Curry told news reporters that concerts and large gatherings will not resume in a Phase I reopening, and he expects social distancing guidelines to continue to limit groups to 10 people or fewer in public spaces.

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