JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Wednesday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry hosted a news conference where he spoke about increased enforcement of bar and restaurant capacity limits and reopening requirements.
Curry said that while bars and restaurants are allowed to be open with certain restrictions, a special code enforcement task force will be stopping in more frequently to make sure these establishments are in compliance.
The mayor said that the city is working with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation in these efforts in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As it stands now, bars and restaurants may operate at 50% indoor capacity and 100% outdoor capacity with proper social distancing. Retail businesses and gyms are able to operate at 100% capacity.
Curry says businesses not adhering to these restrictions might face revocation of food and alcohol licenses.
As far as COVID-19 cases are concerned, there have been 3,330 total confirmed cases in Duval County with 325 hospitalizations and 62 deaths.
During the news conference Dr. Leon Haley, CEO of UF Health and Dean of UF, encouraged people to remain vigilant and to not get hung up on the idea of a 'second-wave'.
"We still are battling the COVID pandemic. let's not focus on the second wave, we are clearly still in first wave of this event," Haley said.
He said that while hospitalizations have 'significantly increased' in terms of admissions, there are still very few beds occupied by ICU patients.
Haley also spoke about a shift in demographics, with more people being hospitalized that are younger and seemingly healthy.
Small Business & JEA Relief
Last week, Curry spoke about a partnership with several councilmembers to provide additional relief to the people and businesses of Jacksonville.
He says that an additional; $3 million has been approved that will go towards small business relief grants, effectively helping 1,500 businesses that may be on the verge of collapse.
Curry did not give a timeline of when applications for these new grants will be made available but you can periodically check this website for the latest updates.
City Council also approved $2 million that will go towards unpaid JEA utility collections. Those grants will be handled by JEA, who will be reaching out to qualifying customers in the coming weeks.
The JEA grants are specifically for people who face the possibility of losing power and water services once the company lifts a moratorium on the suspension of services beginning July 7.
Testing and Prevention
Curry once again reminded people to continue to practice social distancing, wear masks and not put themselves into situations that could further the spread of COVID-19.
He says going into crowded bars without a mask or walking down a busy roadway full of people is probably not in anyone's best interest right now.
The mayor said that the city is working on a plan to move all COVID-19 testing sites indoors. This comes after testing at Lot J was temporarily suspended Wednesday due to damage sustained by stormy weather.
The city is also working on expanding testing to the beaches area.
Republican National Convention
With the Republican National Convention two months away, Curry was questioned about the city's plan to host the massive event despite the rise in the state's COVID-19 cases.
He said that they plan to take a long hard look in the coming weeks at how the COVID-19 numbers are evolving and that right now the focus needs to be on what's happening in our city and how we can be safe.
"We are doing what we can today and make the right decision to keep people safe and monitor decisions in weeks ahead," said Curry.
He said that the same people that are raising concerns about the conventions are the ones going out to crowded public places and not wearing masks. He said there's a certain level of personal responsibility that needs to be addressed first before we can begin to think about an event two months away. .