WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County is ordering more widespread closures to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Mayor Dave Kerner announced Wednesday that all non-critical retail and commercial businesses in the county will be closed "except to the extent necessary to perform minimum basic operations."
In addition, all public and private golf courses and county and regional parks in Palm Beach County will close as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.
"This order that's before you, that's been executed or will be executed by the county administrator is, in effect, a shelter-in-place with minor cutouts for our economic stability," Kerner said.
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Kerner said if Palm Beach County residents continue to abide by self-isolation and social distancing guidelines, a more extensive shelter-in-place order will not be issued.
"If the reaction to this most recent order and the dramatic increase nationwide of the positive test results, then we're gonna go to shelter-in-place, and there is definitely support for that," Kerner said.
The mayor added that a more extensive shelter-in-place order, if issued, would mean that residents would only be allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons.
On Wednesday, county leaders defined the following as critical operations, which will stay open: hospitals, doctor's offices, dentist offices, urgent care clinics, rehabilitation facilities, physical therapy centers, mental health professionals, psychiatrists, therapists, research laboratories, blood banks, medical cannabis facilities, medical equipment facilities, eye care centers, home health care services, substance abuse counselors, medical transport, grocery stores, pharmacies, businesses engaged in food cultivation, and child care facilities, among others.
FOR A FULL LIST OF THE CRITICAL BUSINESSES THAT WILL REMAIN OPEN, CLICK HERE.
Non-critical businesses will have until the end of business on Thursday to close their operations.
Anyone who violates this new order could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
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Earlier on Wednesday, County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay posted on Facebook that she's requesting a stay-at-home order in Palm Beach County to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
McKinlay wrote, in part:
"I hate every second of this epidemic and I hate having to support efforts like a stay at home order or a curfew. But I want to save lives. The lives of our seniors. And our immune compromised. And our healthcare workers, first responders, etc...
I am one of 7 commissioners and under an emergency declaration, the final say is with the Mayor.
We have no such order at this time. I just wanted all of you to know I am supporting one."
Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday he has no plans to issue a sweeping stay-at-home order for the entire state of Florida, calling it "inappropriate."
"To order someone not to be able to earn a paycheck when them going to work is not going to have any effect on what we're doing with the virus, that is something that I think is inappropriate," DeSantis said.
However, the governor added that he supports local municipalities who want to enact their own shelter-in-place orders.
"You just gotta think it through," DeSantis said. "But I've supported the local things, and it's a more surgical approach."
Currently, Miami and Miami Beach, along with smaller municipalities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, have issued stay-at-home orders for residents to keep them from spreading the virus.
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 118 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Palm Beach County.
20 patients have been hospitalized in the county, and three have died.
For the latest information about coronavirus cases in Florida, click here.