County Commission matches state emergency order but keeps mask requirement

The Alachua County Board of County Commission has voted to match the latest emergency order issued by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis while maintaining the countywide requirement for face mask use.

In a unanimous vote on June 9th the BOCC voted to require businesses to follow the CDC and OSHA guidelines and require face mask usage in situations where “social distancing guidelines cannot be observed.”

Commissioner Ken Cornell said he wanted all active parks and playgrounds to be opened immediately but was convinced by the Board to at least give the County park staff a few days to get signage placed. The signs will outline hand washing, social distancing and other CDC guidelines to lower the chance of spreading COVID-19. 

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Commission Chair Robert Hutchinson wanted the BOCC to align playground opening with the rest of the municipalities in the county such as the City of Alachua that is planning for a June 22nd open date.

Commissioner Charles Chestnut said he was in favor of opening county run parks on June 12th.

The motion passed with Hutchinson and Commissioner Merihelen Wheeler in dissent.

The new emergency order will follow the Governors Executive Order 20-139 with two additions:
1. Facial coverings remain mandatory. In the Commission discussion, it was mentioned that the University of Florida was also requiring facial coverings, and that consistency was important.
2. The Commission is requiring businesses to adhere to OSHA and CDC Covid-19 guidelines to keep the public and their employees safe.
In addition, the new order will allow playgrounds to be opened. All County parks and their playgrounds will be opened on Friday, June 12. The one exception is Poe Springs, which will be opened on weekends only (Saturday and Sunday) for the time being.

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