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Curry To Businesses: Start Planning For Reopening

Pictured is a view of the Downtown Jacksonville Skyline.
Mayor Lenny Curry said Monday it's time for Jacksonville businesses to plan to reopen. Pictured is a view of the Downtown Jacksonville Skyline.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is encouraging businesses in Duval County to begin planning for how they will operate when the local economy opens back up. 

“For restaurants, that may mean spacing your diners at least six feet apart, checking your employees temperatures, having them wear masks and regularly sanitizing your dining areas and kitchens,” Curry said Monday. “For retail that may mean limiting person-to-person contact, wearing masks and possibly limiting the number of customers you allow.”

Curry didn’t give a date for when the county will begin reopening businesses, but he said there has been a consistent dip in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 compared to the total number tested. 

“Our percentage of positive test results has fallen to 4.6%,” Curry said. “Over the last three weeks, that percentage has dropped from a high of 6.3 on April 6.” 

According to phase one of the federal guidelines for reopening, there needs to be a downward trend in that category for two weeks before areas should consider moving forward with a plan to reopen. 

The guidelines also call for 150 daily tests conducted for every 100,000 people. That would mean Jacksonville needs roughly 1,500 tests daily. 

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

Curry said Duval County is surpassing that number, and testing capacity will increase with additional sites being added, along with a partnership with Walmart that would add two more drive-thru testing sites. 

On Monday afternoon, the Jacksonville City Council is scheduled to consider emergency legislation that Curry’s office is advocating be passed. 

The bill is a $159 million stimulus package acquired from the Federal CARES Act, with a quarter of the money going to Duval County citizens who need help paying rent, mortgage, and utilities. 

FIS is partnering with Jacksonville to help distribute the money for residents in the form of pre-loaded pay cards.

“This is going to be an outstanding boost to the community and families of Jacksonville as a critical infrastructure provider for merchants, banks and capital markets globally,” said FIS CEO Gary Norcross. 

If the bill passes, 40,000 households would receive the $1,000 prepaid cards. City officials said it would take about a week to go through the process and get the money. 

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Director Keith Powers said only three personnel are still out of work because of possible COVID-19 symptoms. The number of personnel unavailable was over 75 just two weeks ago.  

Curry said the Emergency Operations Center has now handed out one million pieces of personal protective equipment. Nearly two-thirds of the equipment has gone to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.