NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – The Nassau County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday enacted a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic, activating the Emergency Operation Center.
The state of emergency allows officials to quickly access resources to help manage the crisis until things return to normal. It also helps officials take extra measures to protect the public and seek state or federal funding for disaster response and reimbursement for expenses such as overtime costs and purchases of supplies and equipment.
The Nassau County Emergency Operations Center is at Level 2, which means there is enhanced staffing during normal business hours to facilitate local emergency resource requests and ensure timely, accurate communication.
County Manager Mike Mullin said besides that, they are following the directives of the governor, including capping restaurants at 50% capacity, and closing bars and nightclubs for 30 days as March 17.
People going to the county’s public beaches are asked to make sure they are not in groups larger than 10 people and to practice social distancing.
According to the county, other private businesses may remain open as they see fit. Hotels and resorts are still operating, but they have taken a big hit.
Adult arcades are still running because they are not restaurants or bars, so they don’t have to follow the restrictions from the governor. Adult arcades in Nassau County were also supposed to shut down at the end of the month, but two have filed a request for an injunction in federal court.
Businesses have been asked to complete the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity impact survey at https://floridadisaster.biz/. Those experiencing negative economic effects during the coronavirus pandemic may use the form on www.FloridaDisasterLoan.org to apply for a short-term, interest-free Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan between March 17 and May 8.
Nassau P3 (public-private partnership) has compiled information about local resources and social services available to residents during the pandemic response. Updates are posted on its Facebook page.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 9 declared a state of emergency to free up resources and relax restrictions to help the state battle COVID-19.
As of Thursday, according to the Florida Department of Health, there was one confirmed case of COVID-19, which is travel related, in Nassau County. Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said the patient is a 68-year-old man who has self-isolated at home, where he is recovering. The county said that the patient remains in isolation and all close contacts with that person were instructed on quarantine procedures. Any Nassau County residents who believe they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus should call the Department of Health in Nassau County at 904-875-6100 for guidance.
The state Department of Health COVID-19 Call Center is available 24/7 to answer general questions regarding the coronavirus at 866-779-6121 or by email at COVID-19@FLHealth.gov. Click here to view the Florida COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.
The Emergency Operations Center posts information regularly on the NassauEM Facebook Page and on www.NassauFL-EM.com. Anyone with any questions is asked to call the EOC’s information line at 904-548-0900 or message the EOC staff through the NassauEM Facebook page.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated information and resources for the public coronavirus.gov.
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Nassau County operations
Public safety responders are working under normal conditions.
The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office is responding to calls for service as normal. The Sheriff’s Office fingerprinting services have been canceled until further notice.
Visitors are not allowed in fire stations through April 6. Paramedics will meet residents needing medical assistance at station doors. Call 911 for all public safety and medical emergencies.
The Clerk of the Court will not be performing marriage ceremonies at either courthouse until further notice.
The Nassau County jail is being sanitized multiple times per day. All programs, church services and visitation have been suspended. Attorneys and counselors will have access to inmates through glass-shielded rooms, and medical care will continue as normal. A judge ordered weekend inmates postponed until May 22.
The property appraiser’s office is closed to the public but services are available via phone and email.
State parks in Nassau County are open for day-use from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but all organized events, pavilion rentals, and camping reservations are canceled for the next 60 days.
Okefenoke REMC has closed its lobby to the public and is encouraging the use of its website portal, app or drive-thru to make payments.
Until further notice, Nassau-Amelia Utilities will suspend service disconnections for customers who are unable to pay their bills on time. Click here for more information.
Cancellations & changes for Nassau County events
- Wildlight’s FLOCO Festival and 5K are being rescheduled for fall.
- The NC-ARES Amateur Radio General License Course is postponed until April 6.
- The Ocean Highway and Port Authority March meeting is canceled.
The City of Fernandina Beach will prohibit public access to the beaches within its corporate limits, effective 5:00 PM., Saturday, March 21, 2020. This prohibition will remain in effect until further notice. Violators will be subject to penalties under applicable local ordinances and state statutes.
All Nassau County beaches will close Sunday at 6 a.m. until further notice.
The city of Fernandina Beach has canceled all board and commission meetings and all parks and recreation-sponsored child care services, pool facilities and athletic league events.
Additionally, the outdoor recreational facilities at Central Park (tennis, pickleball, and petanque courts- as well as the waterfront petanque courts) will be closed to public use until further notice.
Access to the docks at the Marina will be restricted to boat owners/occupants until further notice.
The City Golf Course will be closed until further notice. City restroom facilities will be closed until further notice.
Cancellations & changes for events in Fernandina Beach & Amelia Island
- The Fernandina Beach Farmer’s Market has been postponed.
- The 2020 Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival has been canceled.
- The docking of tall ships Nina and Pinta from April 24 to May 3 have been canceled.
- The April 18 "Neighbors Helping Neighbors” cleanup, recycling and hazardous waste collection events are being rescheduled for a later date.
- The Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival said it’s canceling an upcoming Itzhak Perlman performance because of concerns surrounding coronavirus. Perlman was set to perform on March 19. The AICMF said it is working to schedule a make-up performance, but no arrangements have been announced. Refunds will be given to those who purchased tickets as soon as possible.
- The Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau has decided to cancel the 2020 Amelia Island Wellness Festival, which was scheduled for April 17-19. All tickets will be fully refunded through Eventbrite. Check AmeliaIslandWellnessFestival.com for ongoing updates or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The ability of vehicles to park in the confined area on the beach at Seaside Park (Sadler Road) appears to be contributing to congregation and the lack of appropriate social distancing on the beach, the city of Fernandina Beach said.
Beginning at noon Friday, vehicle access to the beach at Seaside Park will be prohibited. This prohibition will remain in effect until further notice but is specifically not intended to be a permanent closure. Other city facilities and activities will continue to be monitored in the interest of public health, safety, and welfare.
The beach itself is not closed, and barring directives from federal or state officials, the beach will likely remain unrestricted. As with nearly everything during this emergency, however, circumstances may necessitate additional action. Please be mindful of the recommended personal protective measures to inhibit the spread of Covid-19: maintain social distance of at least six feet and do not congregate in groups of more than ten. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
The Hilliard Town Hall has closed its lobby to the public but has its drive-thru open.
Utility payments can be made via drive-thru, online or by phone at 833-277-0392.
The fitness center is being cleaned and sanitized daily and is limiting access to 50% capacity
Changes & cancellations for Hilliard events
- All Town Council-related meetings are canceled through April 2.
- Parks and Recreation AfterSchool, Youth Sports and Silver Sneakers programs are also canceled through April 2.
- The Town Clean-Up is rescheduled for Sept. 12.
Nassau County School District making plans for distance learning
Following the announcement Tuesday, March 17, by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran that students will not return to campus until at least April 15 due to concerns surrounding the new coronavirus, the Nassau County School District is making plans for distance learning.
With Nassau County’s spring break ending Friday, March 20, enrichment lessons will be available beginning Wednesday, March 25, and learning packets and online lessons will be available the following week.
For families who do not have access to technology at home, devices will be available for check out at Southside Elementary, Emma Love Hardee, Yulee Primary, Yulee Elementary, Yulee Middle and Wildlight Elementary from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. March 26. Devices will also be available for check out at Bryceville Elementary, Callahan Elementary, Callahan Intermediate, Callahan Middle, Hilliard Elementary and Hilliard Middle-Senior High from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. March 27.
Starting Monday, March 23, parents can contact their child’s school for additional information and questions.
Meals will be available beginning Monday, March 23, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations: Southside Elementary, Yulee Middle, Callahan Elementary and Hilliard Middle-Senior High.
The school district said teachers will be returning to work on March 30. Upon their return, they will be contacting their students and parents to share information regarding the district’s plan for instruction, which will include a blended learning model of both online and paper-based instruction.