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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Alachua County residents have more freedom to roam the county after the latest update to the countywide COVID-19 emergency order Sunday.

Businesses can now be filled up to 50 percent capacityan increase from the previous one person per 500 square feet requirementas per Gov. Ron DeSantis’ emergency order that went into effect Monday, the county’s order said. Gyms are reopening, but face coverings are still required in public spaces where social distancing is not possible.

Public places where social distancing is difficult, such as playgrounds, movie theaters and social clubs, are still closed.

The changes are part of stem from the county’s “phase one” opening guidelines, which follow the federal government’s Opening Up America Again plan. The plan focuses on gradually reopening the economy in three phases.

Hospitals and child care facilities may exceed the 50 percent occupancy limit, the order said. All services are required to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines, which include maintaining a 6-foot distance between people, the order read.

County officials will issue a warning if a business violates the order, said Mark Sexton, a county spokesperson. If the business still doesn't comply, code enforcement and eventually law enforcement could be called, he said.

Museums, libraries, gardens and wildlife preserves are also allowed to operate at 50 percent occupancy as long as there aren’t any children’s play areas, the order said. Outdoor seating in restaurants is not included in the occupancy limit.

Pools also reopened May 9 and must meet the standards set by the CDC, which outline acceptable chlorine levels in pools. Seats and tables around pools are also to be distanced by at least 6 feet, according to the county’s order.

Pools must ensure social distancing between swimmers and limit occupancy to one person per 100 square feet of water, the release said. Groups outside pools are limited to under 10 people.

Pool locker rooms must be disinfected, and occupancy is limited to one person per 500 square feet. Employees working in pool houses and locker rooms or around pools must wear face coverings, such as masks.

Contact Grethel at gaguila@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @GrethelAguila.

The COVID-19 virus.

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