County gives Stay At Home order an overhaul

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners held an emergency meeting on March 24th to iron out some details and make changes to the Stay At Home order that went into effect less than 24 hours ago.

Commissioners, the county manager, the county attorney and Attorney Bob Swain went through the order’s lists of essential and non-essential businesses and made changes based on feedback from business owners and citizens.

With a reminder that the order will remain fluid and will be revisited daily, they agreed to make the following changes and add these businesses to the essential category allowing them to reopen and conduct business while using CDC standards of social distancing, hand washing and employee symptom screening. 

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Businesses added to the essential category:

Pawn Shops, real estate, insurance, moving and storage services, construction, landscaping, pool services and auto dealerships.

The commission also mentioned keeping boat ramps and parks open, Poe Springs and playgrounds associated with any parks with a reminder of practicing those CDC standards.

Churches will remain at capacity with 10 people and encouraged to go online.

The commission is looking for more feedback before they change the retail store occupancy from one person per 1,000 square feet capacity rule.

Funerals are recommended to be held graveside when possible to allow for more family members to attend.

Commission Chair Hutchinson commented that he is honored to serve as chair under the circumstances of managing the county response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To which former chair and now Commissioner Ken Cornell said that serving during Hurricane Irma was, “child’s play compared to this.”

Cornell has been tracking the COVID-19 statistics and said Alachua County is still the highest per capita testing positive with 37 cases compared to the population and case ratio of the rest of Florida.

“As a result, I am very supportive of this order,” he said. “If we continue to double at the current rate, double every two and a half days, in 20 days if that continues we will be in the 8,000 range.”

At the end of the two-hour-long meeting County Manager Michele Lieberman announced that the meeting broke a record as it had been watched by almost 8,000 viewers and generated 1,455 comments from those viewers.

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