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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 24, 202003:50 PM EST

Mayor Curry threatens disconnecting water and electricity to enforce work-at-home order

City offices and buildings with public lobbies to close indefinitely beginning March 25.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

Mayor Lenny Curry said he’ll use “every executive function of my office” including condemnation and disconnecting water and electricity, to ensure Jacksonville-area employers allow employees to work from home. 

It’s the city’s latest attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

Curry signed an executive order March 23 that requires all businesses in Jacksonville —  including at the Beaches and in Baldwin — to allow employees to perform their jobs remotely, if possible, as a social distancing technique.

In addition to condemnation, Curry said during a March 24 news conference that the city will shut off utility service to businesses that refuse to comply.

City offices and buildings with public lobbies, Curry said, will close indefinitely beginning March 25. A spokesperson for Curry added in a follow-up email that only essential personnel will be allowed to enter.

“We are all in this together, and I understand that every business is different and has different circumstances,” Curry said. “But now is the time to act and flatten the curve to stop the spread of the virus.”

Curry urged employers and employees to “be reasonable” and determine together a way to perform job duties remotely to voluntarily comply with the executive order.

“This may require employers to adjust their business models, and by no means should this be used by an employee to stay home unnecessarily,” Curry said. “If their job duties require them to be at work, they should be there and be six feet apart.”

Curry recommended workers whose employers refuse to comply with the order call the city’s hotline, 630-CITY, and file a report. The mayor added that city call center employees also will be working remotely.

The order took effect at 8 a.m. March 24. Curry acknowledged some trade, manufacturing, warehouse, grocery and essential retail jobs cannot be done off site.

The latest order adds to Curry’s March 16 directive limiting gathering places to no more than 50 people and is the first that directly impacts office buildings.  

Curry said it’s premature to release details on targeted city aid to help small businesses impacted by the new coronavirus. March 23, the mayor said that his administration is “refining a policy to provide help.”

March 24, Curry added that it’s a “theoretical  discussion” and he wants city officials to speak with more business leaders before approving targeted incentives

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