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Mayor Curry: City ready to implement phase 2 in very ‘near term’

Mayor Curry: City ready to implement phase 2 in very ‘near term’
Mayor Curry: City ready to implement phase 2 in very ‘near term’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Citing continued progress in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Lenny Curry said on Tuesday afternoon the city will begin working towards phase two of reopening as soon as possible.

That officially begins Monday when all of the executive orders that Curry signed during the pandemic are set to expire, including the work-from-home mandate. Curry said that he’s made the case to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that Duval County is “prepared to implement phase two in the very near term in a safe and responsible way.”

Once Curry’s orders expire, those set in place by DeSantis will remain. Among some of DeSantis’ orders include gyms being closed and capacity of restaurants being capped at 25%.

“I am in regular communication with his team. Spoke to home this morning personally. … Told him that we are, we believe, we’re ready to go to phase two in short order,” Curry said.

Curry said that the expiration of the work-from-home order doesn’t mean employees who have been working remotely in their jobs must return to the office on Monday.

Eric Esteban is an architect and a father, so working from home works for him. His firm has been hybrid for years, letting people get the job down however they can

“I have two kids in elementary so I’m a part-time teacher and part-time working from home also,” Esteban said.

Cliff Duch of Cronk Duch Architecture said that his company has the flexibility in place to continue to work remotely.

“We might be at the coffee shop. We could be at the park, we could even be at the beach,” he said. But with our staff it’s pretty flexible."

Curry said that he’s spoken to many business owners recently and felt that in those conversations most would continue to allow employees to work remotely if they were able to do so.

“I hope that employers and employees will continue to allow remote access for those with children and vulnerable populations and the ability to work productively from home,” Curry said.

Among other nuggets coming from Curry’s press conference:

• The city has provided more than $11.5 million in assistance to residents through the mortgage rent and utility relief program that the city council approved two weeks ago.

• The small business relief program through VyStar has signed off on more than 1,000 loans in excess of $37.8 million, Curry said.

• No decision on July 4 festivities yet. Curry said “in the days ahead we’ll have an answer on fireworks.”

• Local businesses have largely adhered to phase 1 orders. Curry said that when the city has received reports of large gatherings or violations of 25% capacity at restaurants, they have addressed those and been successful in resolving them.

About the Authors:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.