Leon County issues stay-at-home order, curfew amid coronavirus pandemic

From the Tallahassee Democrat

While the governor has rejected calls for a statewide lockdown, local officials in Tallahassee announced a stay-at-home order Tuesday following the lead of other areas with confirmed cases of coronavirus around the state.

Large public gatherings were halted almost two weeks ago as the virus began to spread throughout the state and tests slowly began to be administered more readily.

But Tuesday’s stay-at-home order by Leon County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge and Mayor John Dailey set restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people to go into effect at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Any gathering of more than 10 people would be dispersed by law enforcement and punishable by a fine. A curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. also goes into effect Wednesday.

“Pretty much business wise, the businesses that are open today are still open and the people that are out an about in the parks at social distance that is still acceptable. What’s not acceptable is groups of 10 or more anywhere in the community, whether that’s in a house, in a business or in a park,” Desloge said in an interview. “Law enforcement has the ability to go in and write a notice to appear or issue citations or if need be arrest people. We hope it doesn’t get to that but the point of this is to flatten the curve as much as we can.”

Desloge noted there have noted that there have not been any confirmed cases of local spread of the virus but asked that everyone remain vigilant.

The County did not distinguish which businesses are considered essential in an effort to keep services continuing, said County Administrator Vince Long. He asked that people consider telecommuting or evaluating their business models to ensure proper social distancing is followed.

Dailey said grocery stores, banks and gas stations would remain open and people could still travel and carry on with their lives.

“It’s not going to be easy; it’s going to be difficult at times, but we’ll get through this together,” he said. “This is the right thing to do for our community.”

Dailey also pleaded with the city’s university community to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines amid news Tuesday that the latest local case of the virus was a 21-year-old.

“Please join us, be responsible and adhere to the CDC guidelines,” Dailey said. “Everyone is vulnerable to COVID-19.”

Leon County’s first cases of the globally-spreading virus was announced March 11 and since then the number has grown to nine. All but one announced Tuesday were travel related. Almost 200 tests had been administered locally with 188 coming back negative and two pending.

A lag in the count as officials streamline reporting from private labs and drive-through sites means there are many tests and results that have not yet been added to the totals.

Also on Tuesday, Miami Beach and two other Miami-Dade County cites issued an order for residents to stay home. Gainesville and Alachua County did so Monday.