Registration to be required for all indoor gatherings of 10 or more


During Commission Comment at today’s Alachua County Commission meeting, the commissioners discussed a draft Emergency Order that will require registration for all indoor gatherings of 10 or more people anywhere in the county.

County Attorney Sylvia Torres said a new draft is being circulated to the UF Attorney’s Office, the Gainesville City Attorney, and Santa Fe College’s attorney. 

The current indoor occupancy limit (until the new Order is signed) is 50 people. Torres said that the various entities had argued that the County couldn’t justify a limit of 10 people in a 5000 square foot house as well as a 400 square foot apartment, so instead organizers must have enough space to keep groups of 10 separated. Her office is recommending that any gathering of more than 10 people will require registration, with the intent that event organizers can have more than 10 people if groups of 10 can socially distance from each other. 

The registration will be an online form with the location, the person who is applying for the registration, what the plans are for social distancing, and the square footage of the location. The person registering must have authority to speak for the facility. The person registering must also read through the rules regarding social distancing and masking. The list of registrations will be shared with code enforcement and law enforcement, and they can check on parties that have registered to make sure they’re following the rules or, if they get a call about a party that isn’t registered, that’s a violation of the Order. 

Organizers must keep a list of attendees with contact information for at least 30 calendar days following the gathering and shall provide that list with contact information to Alachua County or the Alachua County Health Department for purposes of contact tracing if an infection is linked to that gathering.

The organizer must also post signage at the event, reminding the attendees that social distancing rules are in place and that masking is required. The number of attendees is capped at 50, no matter how big the facility is. 

The County will process all registrations; the Gainesville City Manager declined to process them for the City. 

These registrations will not be reviewed and given a permit; the purpose is to educate the people who register and to give local governments a list of events. Any event with more than 10 people that doesn’t have a registration would be in violation of the Order. 

Commission Chair Robert Hutchinson said, “It’s not worked in other university towns – not this idea, so this is a novel idea, and I think it’s worth trying, and if it really doesn’t work, then we’ll know it fairly quickly, I think.”

Commissioner Ken Cornell said this came up because the university recommended it for the first 3-4 weeks after the students returned. “I want it to be something that has some teeth but it’s helpful, but the idea being that it’s short-term. The university has, I would say, outside, 4 or 5 weeks of time to get this in place, educate the students, and hopefully change behavior that we’ve seen in other universities; then we would be able to lift it. That would be my goal… The idea would be, when UF said, ‘We’re good,’ GPD says, ‘We’re good,’ then we lift it because now we’re good.”

Hutchinson said, “The numbers have dropped very, very low, right now, so we know kind of what the baseline level is, so they’re lower than they’ve been in weeks in our community. So we’ll be able to see now what the impact is of student behavior and just bringing another 50-60,000 people into the community. I think the timing is right, I think the messaging is right; I don’t necessarily think it’s gonna be seen as either popular or a panacea, but I think we’ve got to do something, and I think this is the thing that will set us apart from the other campuses that have had such a tremendous problem with private parties.”

Cornell said, “If we can prevent a breakout, or a CNN story, at the University of Florida, I think it’s job well done, lives will get saved, then we can adjust in 3 or 4 weeks.”

Torres said there were a few more pieces to discuss: “Do these violations rise to the level of student discipline? So can we pass these names on and have the university deal with it, because there’s a general understanding that students are more concerned about the university than they are about a civil citation, which, by the way, these are meant to be a civil citation, not a misdemeanor.”

She also said she’s been told that the messaging from the County, the City of Gainesville, the University of Florida, and Santa Fe College has not been consistent “and that we need to get together and do that.” 

As far as we can tell, this is the relevant section of the latest version of the Order:

  1. GATHERINGS requiring permits
    1. Except as contained herein, an owner or lessee of a residential or non-residential gathering space shall obtain a gathering permit from Alachua County prior to hosting a gathering of more than 10 persons who do not reside in that space.
    2. A residential gathering space includes individual apartments or congregate living facilities, such as fraternity or sorority house and similar living arrangements.
    3. A non-residential gathering space includes apartment clubhouses, country clubs or any other enclosed or common areas which are not businesses or nonprofit organizations.
    4. To obtain a gathering permit, applicants for the gathering permits shall demonstrate that there will be sufficient square footage available in the gathering space for the number of individuals in attendee to social distance.  In no case shall a gathering permit be issued for a gathering of more than 50 persons.
    5. Applicants for a gathering permit must represent that they are an owner or lessee of the gathering space and have authority to act over the gathering space and consent to inspection.
    6. As condition to receiving a gathering permit, applicants consent to inspection of the gathering space for compliance with the permit by municipal and County Codes and Law Enforcement.  
    7. Permittees shall be liable for any violations of their gathering permit.
    8. Permittees shall ensure that signs are posted at each entrance to the gathering space, which are clearly visible to attendees, reminding attendees to observe social distancing requirements and to use facial coverings, as required by this Emergency Order. 
    9. Permittees shall maintain a list of attendees with contact information for at least 30 calendar days following the gathering and shall provide that list with contact information to Alachua County or the Alachua County Health Department for purposes of contact tracing if an infection is linked to that gathering.
  1. Business Occupancy – Those businesses and nonprofit organizations not otherwise named in the Governor’s EO-139 and which are not covered by Section 4 shall insure that they limit their occupancy to whatever occupancy is necessary to allow for appropriate social distancing.
  • The beginning of a totalitarian society. It already exists within local government. Current county manager and attorney do the orders of current authoritarian leadership because they know the employment status of their predecessors who have spoken up and given their opinions.
    The irony of the meeting today is that some of these idiots seem to have “woke” to the probable improper or unnecessary use of government provided monetary assistance. “Obama” cell phones ring a bell?
    Either someone hit them with the “common sense” stick or now they are afraid their policies are beginning to bite them in the @r$e. Imagine that…

    • I agree, using Covid as a reason. Than is not the real reason behind it. They are taking names and tracking your friends and associates.

  • If a set of parents has 7 children, do they have to get a permit before the wife can get pregnant with household resident number 10?

    • Not in this particular county. Those will be considered “undocumented legal” individuals…or future voters for the “left” even though these local leaders know they are not “right.”
      Once again, these knuckleheads show their hypocrisy

  • You think WE THE PEOPLE are going to standby and let you think you are going to run our lives. You have another thing coming. I will not stand for your rule during this fake pandemic. No pandemic, no closings, no distancing, and NO MASK!

  • Y’all are ruled by a group of NAZIS over there in Alachua! This is what happens when you don’t get out and vote! I’d be pissed if I lived over in that dictator nazi liberal a$$ county! No wonder why Springs County is coming soon!!!

  • And what, precisely, prevents people from having social gatherings in nearby counties? Are they only targeting students? If they are then that is ageist.

  • This is absolutely insane and violation of
    Peoples freedom and rights. Who or what we do in the privacy of my home, which we own, is none of your business. Springs County!! Springs County!! Springs County!!

  • Government has no jurisdictional authority to do anything other than that which the people have delegated to it in the Constitution. Government may not act beyond these derivative and limited powers even if a majority wants it to, because the “majority may trespass on the rights of the minority.”
    -James Madison (Father of the Constitution)
    Memorial and Remonstrance

  • Where does it say you don’t have to register if it’s
    A BLM peaceful protest? Are they really going to waste
    Law enforcement resources on 11 college students
    With a keg listening to music instead of catching bad
    Guys? I don’t think cops will enforce this BS…they got
    Real bad guys to catch. I hope the cops don’t use the
    Knee on the neck technique…

    1 adam12, we got some college kids in an unlawful
    Assembly…theres 11 of them grilling burgers & hotdogs
    And drinking Pepsi products…please send all available
    Units to break up the ruckus….

    • They don’t believe in the US Constitution.

      Anyone ever wish these 5 would catch Covid-19?

      • So far they managed to outlive previous events extending their natural life… Thanks to medical science. Now they will abuse power to steal your freedoms to extend their life further.
        Too close to kids that might get you sick? Worried?over out into a secluded area until the cure comes… Oh wait… That would take away YOUR POWER….. you wouldn’t consider that now, eh?

        • I don’t understand the question.
          The only power I have is what our God permits me to have.
          And whatever my spouse shares with me. Lol!

  • I am sorry. You can’t tell me I have to do anything If I want to have people in my PRIVATE home!

    • Don’t be sorry for that… that’s like, wait for it… Apologizing for being ______. I wasn’t alive 140+ years ago. Sorry for the travesties but my parents and grandparents weren’t slave owners.
      You get the meaning – just saying.

  • Sounds like a direct 4th Amendment violation.

    I for one do NOT feel safe nor secure giving Alachua any of my info…

    Are they trying to indoctrinate students? Good enough to take their tuition, yet not allowed to make personal choices.

    Almost seems like they know the education system doesn’t teach common sense or real world responsibility any more.

  • Technocrats will eventually be able to track your family to the point of knowing exactly what time you attempted to impregnate your wife and if you had a legal permit for intercourse.. Think I’m kidding?

  • Ahem… Uh… Constitutional right to gather? Soooo… Sheeple.. mean People need to fill out a form to do people things. Got it.

  • Exactly what lawful statute or article in the Florida Constitution gives the Alachua County Commission the authority to demand registration of lawful assemblies, or private gatherings? Please be specific and cite the actual authority rather than a vague something you believe to be true.

  • I would hold a gathering of over 50 people. Make sure all of them are very heavily armed. Then sit and wait for the compliance officers to show up..

  • I see humor in the Attorney ad in the middle of the article. People can go almost anywhere in the county and be around more than 10 people. I guess the county has attorneys and funding to defend the harassment lawsuits to come.

  • How can local government have the power to control your private residence?

  • F these people. I am glad I dont live in Alachua anymore. It will come down to a lawsuit and then they will be forced to pay a huge sum of money and repeal it.

  • So what is the fine if caught gathering without said permit?Who is going to enforce this? Seems to be geared towards all the new money in town with students and games. I say everyone should carry on as usual. Tailgate just like before. If enough are doing it they do not have the ability to police it all. I can just see some kind of social worker trying to detain me or write me some sorta citation. Better have a gun, badge and handcuffs or it ain’t happening.

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