Gainesville declares State of Emergency, limits bar and restaurant hours and occupancy


The Gainesville City Commission declared a State of Emergency in today’s Special Meeting. The declaration grants broad authorities to the City Manager and to the General Manager of GRU. All orders are effective at noon tomorrow. 

Among other things, the declaration suspends some parts of the city’s agreements with unions and allows it to take actions it deems necessary for the health and welfare of the city. The declaration is in effect for 7 days and can be renewed. 

Restrictions on restaurants and bars

Gatherings in certain venues will be limited to 50 people or 50% of the occupancy load, whichever is less. People will only be permitted to sit at tables in restaurants; bar seating and standing will be prohibited. Patrons must have access to hand sanitizer. Tables are limited to 6 or fewer people. Restaurants can be open only 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., but delivery and take-out can continue outside those times. 

Buses will operate at 50% capacity to allow riders to spread out. 

The Commission also voted to:

  • Send a letter from the mayor to the jail, asking about plans to contain the virus once it is detected there
  • Contact court services and the sheriff, asking them to suspend eviction orders
  • Attempt to get clarity from the Department of Health on testing availability and protocols
  • Encourage UF’s fraternities and sororities to suspend large gatherings (the Commission is particularly concerned about St. Patrick’s parties)
  • Keep public restrooms open
  • Investigate sites that can be used to quarantine the homeless
  • Communicate in more languages, particularly Spanish
  • Extend last week’s moratorium on utility disconnections to commercial and GRUCom accounts