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Jacksonville Beach businesses gear up for influx of thousands of people with RNC

Brian Shaner, the director of operations for RagTime in Atlantic Beach, says they are gearing up for the RNC while taking every precaution possible for the pandemic.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — With the Republican National Convention just a couple months away and an increase in COVID-19 cases at restaurants and bars around Jacksonville beach, many people have been wondering if beach businesses will be ready for the influx of visitors. 

Brian Shaner, the director of operations for RagTime in Atlantic Beach, says they are gearing up for the RNC while taking every precaution possible for the pandemic.

"The year 2020 has been challenging for lots of reasons, but that's OK," said Shaner. "Careful attention can minimize any chance of spreading COVID."

RagTime just opened its doors back up less than a week ago for the first time since it had to close in early March. It's reopening at a time when many businesses around them are closing back down due to the spread of COVID-19.

"When we do staff checks in the morning, we take their temperature, we talk to them about their current health, we know if they’ve traveled or not, we have an open and honest conversation," he said.

Even with the risk of COVID-19, he believes the RNC is needed more than ever right now to help boost businesses who have been closed and struggling for months. 

"Having just come through this dead spot in the economy, we certainly as local business people need these dollars," he said.

As far as planning on a larger scale goes, all three beach mayors and the Jacksonville Beach Police Chief, met for the first time Tuesday to start planning. They expect to know more concrete details about RNC events next week and will coordinate with Mayor Lenny Curry, but one thing is for sure, by late August there will be thousands of more people in Jacksonville and many will flood to the beach community.

Shaner says his staff could certainly use the extra money after being out of work for so long

"This is a great thing for Jacksonville," he said.

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