County to allow one customer per 750 square feet at local essential retail stores

Alachua County Board of County Commissioners Chair Robert Hutchinson is expected to amend Emergency Order 2020-12 on April 15th to allow one person per every 750 square feet at local essential retail stores.

The order currently allows one person per 1,000 square feet.

At the end of a 5-hour regular meeting on April 14th Commissioner Ken Cornell commented that he was impressed with the higher COVID-19 safety awareness he sees happening at local stores.

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“In the last week I’ve seen a marked increase in the public actually wearing face masks, I’ve seen a number of employees (wearing face masks), screening in front of employees, asking folks would you like to bag your own?

“At this point I wouldn’t be opposed to lowering it to 750 (square feet) to cut down on those lines.”

Commissioner Mike Byerly agreed and has been lobbying for the less strict rule because of his concern over long lines outside stores creating distancing issues.

“My concern is signaling that we are opening things up,” Chair Hutchinson said at first.

But Cornell said, “It’s because I see the public social distancing in the stores. It’s a small sign, and it’s letting the public know we are listening to them.”

Hutchinson then agreed that one person per 750 square feet would not significantly impact the store capacity.

Usually the amendment to emergency orders come out on Mondays, but Hutchinson moved it to the top of his list.

Byerly said, “I’ve been waiting three weeks to get this done.”

Hutchinson then said he would write the order and sign it “tomorrow” on April 15th.

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