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Jax Daily Record Monday, Mar. 23, 202005:00 PM EST

Mayor Curry to mandate employees who can do their jobs remotely to stay home

Businesses could face fines and citations if they do not comply.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

To slow the spread of COVID-19, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he will mandate employees who can do their jobs remotely to stay home.

Curry told reporters in a virtual news conference March 23 that he’s working with the city’s Office of General Counsel to add the language to his March 16 executive order that limits gathering places to no more than 50 people. 

“I continue to hear about people and businesses and employees taking unnecessary risks,” Curry said. “I’ve seen examples of people ignoring these warnings.

“To be clear, if an employee can perform their job function from home, my executive order will require that happens.”

After the meeting on the city’s official Twitter account, a city spokesperson said Curry’s order would go into affect at 8 a.m. March 24.  The tweet said businesses could face fines and citations from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department fire marshal if they do not comply.

Curry’s order will require companies to keep employees at least 6 feet from each other if they must be in the office.

The latest directive adds to a growing list of businesses and organizations being asked to restrict the number of people they serve on-site. Churches, arcades, nonessential shopping, movie theaters, day cares, coffee shops and social gathering places are restricted indefinitely to a  maximum occupancy of 50 people in Duval County.

Gathering places include conventions, large meetings, weddings and “any other large social gathering of people.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order March 20 for restaurants to cease on-premise food and alcohol consumption, limiting service to carryout and delivery. 

On March 17, the governor closed all bars and nightclubs statewide for 30 days.

Curry said March 23 that his administration is working on policy initiatives to provide relief to small businesses, but he did not detail what the assistance will be or when it would be available.

The mayor said he and Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams have considered a citywide curfew but determined enforcement would strain Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office resources.

Curry said although it appears that most Duval County residents are taking the social distancing order seriously, he’s heard anecdotal evidence of people congregating in streets and homes despite the social distancing rules. 

“These irresponsible actions put people and families of our city at risk,” Curry said. “The more people that refuse to listen and fail to take these precautions, the longer this crisis will continue. As a former business owner, I understand the pain, uncertainty and disruptions to businesses and employees right now.

“We’re not setting a curfew, but we’re asking you to do the right thing,” he said.

Curry warned, if people’s behavior does not change, federal or state officials could step in.

“If we don’t flatten the curve, we could see a federal or state curfew and they will enforce it,” Curry said. 


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