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Curry: Businesses That Don’t Send Employees Home Could Face Condemnation, Utility Shutoff

Mayor Curry alongside emergency personnel in the city.
Sky Lebron
Mayor Lenny Curry's (Left) executive order went into effect Tuesday, Match 24 at 8 a.m.

An executive order by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry went into effect Tuesday at 8 a.m. 

“This [order] allows any employees who can perform their job duties from home to be able to do so,” Curry told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “Employers must allow this if those duties can be performed from home. If an employee is unable to work from home, they should be no less than 6 feet away from other folks.” 

Businesses in Duval County that don’t follow the executive order could face consequences. 

“If I have to, that includes condemnation and subsequent termination of utilities to businesses that refuse to cooperate during this public health crisis,” Curry said. “These are not measures that I want to utilize, so I’m asking employers and employees to reasonably figure out if the job duties can be done from home.” 

Employees who want to report noncompliant businesses can call (904) 630-CITY, Curry said. 

Emergency Executive Order No. 2020-3, dated March 23, reads, in part: “All businesses within the Consolidated City (including the Beaches and Baldwin) whose work is able to be performed by employees remotely from their homes shall allow such employees to do so, and to the best of their ability facilitate the means necessary to accomplish this mandate. Such businesses shall be prohibited from allowing employees at the office or other work place, unless working at the office or other work place or outside the home is essential or working from home is not possible by a particular employee. At all times each employee shall be no less than 6 feet away from another employee, for any purpose, unless and only to the extent necessary by virtue of their job. Employers shall continue to pay employees during this time.”

On Tuesday, Curry also said the regional field hospital in Jacksonville  —  which would provide up to 200 beds in case of an overflow of patients in other area hospitals  —  is beginning its set up today.  The process could take three to four days.

“This is only a precaution,” Curry said. We’re getting ahead of what could happen. Our hospitals are in good shape.” 

Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers said area hospitals are “nowhere near capacity” and, so far, have not seen a surge in critical-condition patients. 

As for a citywide curfew or lockdown, Curry said it’s an option he’ll continue discussing with Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, but as for now, they think JSO’s resources would be better used fighting other crimes. 

Williams said, despite the pandemic, the rate of crime in Jacksonville has not slowed. 

The sheriff also said the county jail has no confirmed cases of coronavirus among inmates but is planning for what to do if one is confirmed. Meanwhile, seven JSO corrections officers are self-isolating because they have reason to think they may have been exposed.

Read more from WJCT News:Local, State And National Coronavirus Coverage

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP
Former WJCT News reporter