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Palm Beach County leaders hold news conference about beach, business closures

Posted at 6:04 AM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 18:58:43-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the closure of all beaches and many businesses in Palm Beach and Broward Counties on Friday until the end of the month.

According to an executive order issued on Friday, all movie theatres, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gymnasiums, fitness studios, and beaches will close until March 31.

In addition, all restaurants, bars, pubs, night clubs, banquet halls, cabarets, breweries, cafeterias, and any other alcohol and/or food service businesses with seating for more than 10 people in Palm Beach and Broward Counties must close, except for take-out and delivery services.

Grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, and gas stations will remain open. The executive order did not address child care facilities.

"We've been consulting with the local folks here in Broward as well as in Palm Beach County," the governor said at a news conference on Thursday in Broward County. "The county has been working with us on identifying those actions in terms of additional closures like gyms and things like that."

The executive order is similar to what's been done in Miami-Dade County, where all all beaches, parks, and non-essential commercial and retail businesses are now closed.

"I've agreed to do it for Broward and Palm Beach counties," the governor said on Thursday.

The governor issued a second executive order on Friday that requires all restaurants and bars in Florida to only be open for delivery and take-out through Friday, May 8. In addition, gyms and fitness center throughout Florida must close.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus | What's open, closed?

Palm Beach County leaders held a news conference on Friday afternoon about the closures and what still remains open.

"Our parks system is generally open. Golf courses will remain open," said Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner. "With concern to private industry and business, the vast majority of businesses, offices, law offices, doctor's offices, things of that nature, will be allowed to remain open."

Health officials said that of the 34 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Palm Beach County, 15 are related to travel outside the United States, six are not travel-related, and 13 have an unknown cause.

"That means we have 19 cases that have no relationship to travel or to a positive person. That's the definition of community spread," said Dr. Alino Alonso, health director for the county. "We expect higher numbers to start appearing now because of the community transfer."


FULL NEWS CONFERENCE: Palm Beach County leaders talk about beach, business closures due to coronavirus

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said, at this point, he doesn't anticipate enacting a county-wide curfew, and eviction notices will not be served for up to 60 days.

County leaders are urging everyone to limit gatherings to 10 people or less and practice social distancing, as is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We also want you to avoid large crowds because it's almost impossible when you're in a large crowd to stay away from each other," said Dr. Alonso.

Boca Raton and Palm Beach have already closed beaches, and Boca Raton is restricting restaurants within city limits to take-out and delivery only.

Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties lead the state in the number of coronavirus cases.

For the latest information about coronavirus in Florida, click here.