Mayor working to ensure Jacksonville policies remain in sync with governor’s plan

Jacksonville businesses already making changes in order to reopen

Hawthorn Salon (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration will be working to ensure city policies remain in sync with the plan unveiled by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to begin opening the state, the mayor said Wednesday.

DeSantis announced at 5 p.m. Wednesday that restaurants and retail stores in Florida -- except Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, the area of the state hardest hit by the coronavirus -- will be allowed to reopen Monday at 25% capacity if the local government allows it. DeSantis said he will not allow the reopening of gyms and barbershops in the first phase, and he’s not setting a date for the second phase yet.

Curry said Tuesday he hoped to have some nonessential business back next week. He would not give specifics on what types of businesses would reopen first, but it’s believed restaurants would be allowed to let customers dine in. Following the governor’s announcement Wednesday, Curry released a statement, saying he will provide further guidance on local policies later this week.

“The governor and his entire team are taking action every day in Jacksonville by expanding testing, protecting our most vulnerable, distributing protective equipment to those heroic medical emergency workers and setting out a roadmap for opening our state,” Curry said. “Today’s announcement of the Plan for Florida’s Recovery is the formal starting point of that roadmap. The plan lays out a phased approach that is safe, smart, and ready to guide us, step-by-step, back to the life we knew before the virus."

READ | Mayor Curry’s statement in response to Gov. DeSantis’ decision to begin reopening Florida

In Riverside’s Five Points historic district, Jim Stracke, owner of Hawthorn Salon, told News4Jax that he knows changes will have to be made when salons are allowed to reopen in Florida.

“I’m a little bit nervous on how we will come back and what it’s going to look like coming back. I guess we’ll wait and see what they say and then make a decision on whether we open up right away or wait to feel things out,” Stracke said.

Some Jacksonville businesses that are preparing to reopen have already made physical changes, like restaurants where booths and half the tables have been removed and social distancing will become the norm. It’s the same for other businesses like clothing stores and salons.

“We’ve changed the set up of the front desk. I’m assuming that when we come back, we’ll probably have to space out stations, maybe work every other station, and maybe do split shifts," Stracke said.

Curry said Tuesday that positive trends in COVID-19 testing data led him to begin taking the next steps toward getting the city “gradually and cautiously” back to work, including extending beach hours from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning Monday and repealing his executive order that prohibited all hotels, motels and other commercial lodging establishments from accepting or extending reservations for any person other than essential lodgers. That means hotels can begin taking reservations for nonessential stays starting Monday.

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.