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Arreola urges County to reduce capacity in bars and restaurants

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

At today’s Gainesville City Commission meeting, Commissioner David Arreola urged the city commission to support a proposed Alachua County Commission discussion about reducing capacity at bars and restaurants.

Arreola said County Commissioner Anna Prizzia plans to bring up the issue at today’s county commission meeting at 5:00 p.m.

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Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos said other counties require businesses to enforce mask mandates on individuals within the business, and Alachua County should also do that.

Mayor Lauren Poe wasn’t in favor of a detailed discussion about enforcement right away because he thought the plan would have to be approved by the governor before it could be implemented. Arreola disagreed: “If we wait, there’s Thursday night, there’s Friday night, there’s Saturday night, then the cat’s out of the bag.” Arreola said that the return of UF students always results in a spike in cases.

Commissioner Gigi Simmons asked the commission to consider problems with the City’s suspension of the open container ordinance during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Poe said she would have to bring him “a long way” to reverse the suspension, but he agreed to discuss it at a future meeting.

Poe decided that they would put a time-certain “COVID-related issues” agenda item at a time certain of 3:00 p.m. on next Thursday’s city commission agenda. No motion was made, and no vote was taken.

Commissioners disagreed on whether they would be willing to implement capacity restrictions in the City if the County didn’t act, with Arreola and Hayes-Santos generally favoring it and Poe and Commissioner Reina Saco expressing hesitancy.

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