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Jacksonville mayor tells restaurants, retailers to 'begin preparing' ahead of city reopening 'in near future'

Though Mayor Lenny Curry believes Jacksonville is on "the right track," his stay-at-home order still remains in effect.

On Monday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry told restaurants, lodging and retail owners to start thinking about how their businesses can follow CDC guidelines for when the city reopens "in the near future."

"Today is simply a statement to begin preparing and think about how you are going to be able to incorporate these things [CDC guidelines]," Curry said.

He said, for example, restaurants can implement spaced-out dining to follow the six-foot social distancing guideline, or have restaurant staff to wear gloves and masks.

Curry doesn't have a projected date on when reopenings will be, however, he said he believes Jacksonville is "on the right track." He said more specific guidance will be issued in the near future.

"In the meantime, stay the course and keep doing what we are doing," he said. "My stay-at-home order remains in effect."

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At the time of his afternoon news conference, there were nearly 1,000 positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Jacksonville, as well as 95 hospitalizations and a total of 19 deaths. Curry said the percentage of positive tests dropped to 4.6 percent. Three weeks ago, it was 6.3 percent, Curry said.

"We are on the right track in Jacksonville," he said. "We will take the next step in reopening our city."

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Additionally, Curry addressed how COVID-19 brought "a lot of economic stress" in the community. Therefore, he hopes City Council will pass a $159 million relief package, which will give $1,000 to 40,000 Duval County households that have lost wages due to closures. The package will also help open six new testing sites that could help administer 1,200 additional tests combined.

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The $1,000 would be issued through cards by FIS, a leading partner in the effort.

"We are proud to call Jacksonville home," said Gary Norcross, the chairman, president and CEO of FIS. "Issuing the cards and processing the cards in this very needed assistance."

If passed, Curry said city staff will begin training on how to process applications for the stimulus aid, as well as announce how citizens can apply soon.