Leon County is enacting a stay at home order starting at 11 p.m. Wednesday. Law enforcement will disperse crowds of more than 10 people and those who violate the order could face fines.
Under the Leon County order, people can still go to work, walk their dogs, and shop for necessities like gas, groceries and banking. The order does not impact businesses that are currently open. Law enforcement will disperse crowds of more than 10 people and anyone who violates the order could face fines and criminal charges. Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey says he stands behind the county's decision to enforce the order.
"We all know that this is going to make life a little bit more difficult for many in our community, but public health is our chief concern at this time," he said during a Tuesday press conference announcing the move.
Beginning Wednesday night, a curfew will be in place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. According to the Leon County Health Department's data posted at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, there were only eight cases of COVID-19 infections in the county. The data is updated each hour.
In pushing back against calls to institute a statewide shelter-in-place directive, Gov. Ron DeSantis called it a "blunt instrument" and said nearly a third of Florida's counties have reported only a few or no cases of infection.
"You’re throwing their lives potentially into disarray," DeSantis said Monday during a press conference. "And if that were something necessary statewide because the health comes first, that would be one thing. But if you look at Florida’s situation right now, this is not a virus that’s impacting every corner of the state.”
The city and county's decision caught the Leon County School District by surprise. Ahead of the announcement Superintendent Rocky Hanna said he was concerned about what effect a shelter in place order would have on the 14 school sites being used to distribute food. The sites rely on volunteers for staffing. After the announcement and a call to the city and county, the district said the sites will not be impacted by the stay-at-home directive.
Leon County Republican Party Chairman Evan Power called the decision, "political pandering".
“I think there’s a lot of hysteria from local officials to do more…and I think the governor yesterday explained it really well. When you lock people down too much they’re going to act out in some other way. You have to get buy in from the people, and I think they’re going too far, too fast.”