As we receive information from the City of St. Augustine and the St. Johns County Government, we will release updates and relevant information to you through this post. Updates will be posted as soon as we received them, and we’ll do our best to keep you informed with the timeliest information.
APRIL 1, 2020
GOVERNOR ISSUES STAY-AT-HOME ORDER FOR FLORIDA
Governor Ron DeSantis has issued a new executive order requesting all Floridians to stay at home. In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, the governor said the new order will allow for only necessary movements. The order goes into effect Thursday night at midnight.
MARCH 28, 2020
ST. JOHNS COUNTY BEACHES CLOSED TO PUBLIC ACCESS
In order to protect public health, safety, and welfare and maximize compliance with State of Florida Executive Order 20-68, all public beaches in St. Johns County are closed to public access under the local state of emergency, effective 6am on Sunday, March 29, and will remain closed until further notice.
“We have taken as many measures as possible up to this point to preserve our residents’ ability to access their beach. Unfortunately, those visiting the beach continue to ignore CDC guidelines regarding crowd size and personal distancing. In order to maintain public safety and respect the State of Florida’s Executive Order, we had no choice but to close the coastline to public access today,” said Hunter S. Conrad, St. Johns County Administrator. “We will continue to be methodical in our approach to closings related to COVID-19, and like every decision we have made to this point, we will open the beaches at the appropriate time when it is safe to do so.”
The determination to close all public beaches is based upon a recommendation to reduce health risks associated with COVID-19 and beach overcrowding by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Augustine Beach Police Department, the City of St. Augustine, the City of St. Augustine Beach, St. Johns County Emergency Management, and local health officials. All boat ramps, parks, green spaces, and trails remain open for the public to safely enjoy. For more information, please call the St. Johns County Emergency Management hotline at 904.824.5550.
MARCH 25, 2020
RESTRICTIONS AND GUIDELINES EXTENDED THROUGH MAY 8
The City of St. Augustine has executed Administrative Order 2020-06, to extend current restrictions and guidelines through May 8, 2020, which is consistent with the Governor’s Executive Orders. This includes the following:
- All permitted events, festivals, and large gatherings are cancelled;
- All public meetings, including City Commission, Code Enforcement Adjustments and Appeals Board, Historic Architectural Review Board, and Planning and Zoning Board, except for emergency meetings as needed, are cancelled;
- All non-essential meetings that do not address the immediate operations and function of municipal business are cancelled;
- The Governor’s Emergency Order 20-71 prohibits all on-site consumption of food or alcohol by vendors and licensed establishments;
- The Visitor Information Center is closed, and all City-managed on-street and off-street parking is suspended;
- All parking meters, payment kiosks, and mobile parking app (ParkStAug) will not accept payments;
- Termination of water service for non-payment will be suspended;
- City Hall offices are closed to the public;
- For the duration of time while City offices are closed to public access, convenience fees for payment will be waived.
WSOS ST. JOHNS COUNTY TODAY COVID-19 UPDATES
St. Johns County has partnered with WSOS 99.5 FM/1170 AM to host St. Johns County Today COVID-19 Updates at 8:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Co-hosted by Michael Ryan, St. Johns County Director of Communications, and WSOS’s Kevin Geddings, the show covers a variety of topics related to the COVID-19 health emergency in St. Johns County. The radio show will also feature representatives from partner agencies directly involved with the COVID-19 response, including public safety, fire rescue, and emergency management. The public may submit questions in advance or during the show by visiting the WSOS Facebook page or by emailing them directly to [email protected].
LATE FEE AND SERVICE DISCONNECTION SUSPENSION
The St. Johns County Utility Department is suspending late fees on utility bills, effective immediately, in an attempt to ease financial strain on families and businesses impacted by COVID-19. In addition, the Utility Department will not disconnect services on accounts with an outstanding balance. These measures are in effect until further notice. Customers with past-due balances that predate the current health emergency are still expected to pay for their services. For more information, please call 904.209.2700 or visit www.sjcfl.us/utilities/.
MARCH 23, 2020
ADDITIONAL ST. JOHNS COUNTY RESPONSE MEASURES
In response to the impacts of COVID-19 in our community, St. Johns County is taking additional measures to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of our residents, visitors, and workforce. Effective Monday, March 23, the following policies, procedures, and actions will remain in effect until further notice:
- Public Meeting Procedures – In accordance with State of Florida Executive Order 20-69, local government and public meetings do not require a quorum to be present in person or meet in a specific public place. In addition, communications media technology, such as telephonic and video conferencing, may be utilized to conduct public meetings. The order does not suspend any other requirement under the Florida Constitution or “Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Laws”.
- Limited Public Building Access – All St. Johns County facilities are operating under limited public access restrictions. In an effort to reduce the size of public gatherings and maintain the CDC recommended minimum distance of six feet between parties, each facility will implement individual guidelines relative to their specific building clientele and services. Measures could include the closure of public lobbies, the encouragement of online business practices, and the reduction of building occupancy.
- COVID-19 Closure and Cancellation Extensions – All current St. Johns County facility closures and program cancellations associated with COVID-19 are extended through April 17. The closure extension applies to the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, all St. Johns County public libraries, and recreational programming and facilities.
MARCH 22, 2020
ST. JOHNS COUNTY CLOSES PUBLIC BEACH PARKING LOTS
In order to maximize compliance with State of Florida Executive Order 20-68, all public beach parking lots in St Johns County are closed under the local state of emergency, effective 6am on Monday, March 23 and will remain closed until further notice. The determination to close all public beach parking lots is based upon a recommendation to reduce health risks associated with COVID-19 and beach overcrowding by the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the St Augustine Beach Police Department, St Johns County Emergency Management, and local health officials. While pedestrian access to St Johns County beaches remains accessible, please limit gatherings to no more than 10 persons and maintain a minimum distance of six feet between other parties in compliance with CDC guidelines. Vehicular access to all St Johns County beaches remains prohibited until further notice.
MARCH 20, 2020
GOVERNOR DESANTIS SUSPENDS ON PREMISE SERVICE FOR RESTAURANTS AND ORDERS THE CLOSURE OF GYMS/FITNESS CENTERS
The St. Johns County government shared the Executive Order of Governor DeSantis regarding alcohol sales, restaurants, and gyms –
All vendors licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises must suspend the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink or in sealed containers for consumption on the premises. Such vendors may continue to sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for consumption off premises.
I hereby order all restaurants and food establishments licensed under Chapters 500 and 509, Florida Statues, within the State of Florida to suspend on-premises food consumption for customers. Notwithstanding the foregoing, such establishments may operate their kitchens for the purpose of providing delivery or take-out services. Employees, janitorial personnel, contractors and delivery personnel shall be allowed access to such establishments for the purposes of delivery or take-out services.
I hereby order the closure of gymnasiums and fitness centers within the State of Florida. This order shall not apply to gymnasiums and fitness centers which are: (i) amenities of hotels which have a capacity of 10 persons or less, (ii) are an amenity of a residential building, (iii) are interior to any fire or police stations or (iv) are located inside any single-occupant office building.
CITY OFFICES CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
In light of the current pandemic situation, City of St. Augustine offices will be closed to the public beginning Monday, March 23, 2020. This closure will not prevent customers from conducting all necessary City business. Offices will operate and implement the following:
- Customer Service/Utility Billing: The Customer Service office located at 50 Bridge Street will continue to serve the public by taking payments and answering questions over the phone, via email, via the payment drop box and with limited operations at the drive-thru window. The office can be reached at 904-825-1037 and [email protected]. Payments can be made online by visiting https://www.citystaug.com/453/Customer-Service.
- Parking: The Parking office located at 50 Bridge Street will continue to serve the public by taking payments and answering questions via email and over the phone. The office can be reached at 904-825-1037 and [email protected].
- Planning & Building: The Planning & Building office located at 75 King Street, Lobby B will continue to serve the public by taking payments, accepting plans and answering questions via email and over the phone. The office can be reached at 904-825-1065 and [email protected].
- Public Works: The Public Works office located at 75 King Street, Lobby B will continue to serve the public by taking payments, accepting plans and answering questions via email and over the phone. The office can be reached at 904-825-1040 and [email protected].
- City Clerk: The City Clerk’s office located at 75 King Street, Lobby B will continue to serve the public by answering questions via email and over the phone. The office can be reached at 904-825-1007 and [email protected].
- Human Resources: The Human Resources office located at 75 King Street, Lobby D will continue to serve the public by answering questions via email and over the phone. We are currently not accepting applications, but applicants are encouraged to check the City’s website for changes and open positions. The office can be reached at 904-825-1013 and [email protected].
- City Attorney: The City Attorney’s office located at 75 King Street, Lobby A will continue to serve the public by answering questions via email and over the phone. The office can be reached at 904-825-1052 and [email protected].
- City Manager: The City Manager’s office located at 75 King Street, Lobby A will continue to serve the public by answering questions via email and over the phone. The office can be reached at 904-825-1006 and [email protected].
- Purchasing: The Purchasing office located at 75 King Street, Lobby B will continue to serve the public by answering questions via email and over the phone. The office can be reached at 904-825-1010 and [email protected].
BEACHES CLOSED TO VEHICULAR ACCESS
In an effort to maximize observance of the State of Florida’s executive order regarding gatherings on beaches, vehicular access to all St. Johns County beaches will be prohibited beginning Saturday, March 21. Executive Order 20-68 states that individuals accessing public beaches are to follow CDC guidance by limiting gatherings to no more than 10 persons and distance themselves from other parties by six feet.
SOLID WASTE COLLECTIONS REMAIN ON SCHEDULE
The City of St. Augustine Solid Waste collections will continue normal operations. Pickup of residential and commercial trash, recycling, and yard debris remains on schedule. Along with the theme of cleanliness, the City would like to remind potentially toilet paper-strapped residents that their toilets are not trash cans. Flushing items other than toilet paper and human waste can cause clogs and back-ups, potentially increasing the spread of germs and the malfunction of the city’s wastewater treatment operations. Many products are considered “flushable” or may seem harmless to flush, like paper towels, but these items do not break up like toilet paper and should not be allowed down any toilet or drain.
PARKING FEE SUSPENSION, VISITORS CENTER CLOSURE
In response to these growing concerns, the City has issued Administrative Order 2020-04, which calls for the suspension of parking fees and closure of the Visitor Information Center (VIC). Per the order, City-managed on-street and off-street parking will not be enforced. As a result, parking meters, payment kiosks, and the ParkStAug mobile parking app will not accept payments. These meters and kiosks act as “touch points” which may hold germs, and the City’s goal is to assist in prevention of COVID-19 by limiting the opportunity for the public to come into contact with the disease. The Historic Downtown Parking Facility, located adjacent to the Visitor Information Center (VIC), will continue normal operations and will be collecting posted parking fees. The VIC, located at 10 San Marco Avenue, is temporarily closed, until Friday, April 3. However, the public bathrooms will remain open and their cleaning schedule will be enhanced.
MARCH 19, 2020
The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners declared a Local State of Emergency in response to COVID-19 on March 17. In response, the St Johns County Emergency Operations Center has been elevated to a level two partial activation and the COVID-19 Citizens Information Hotline is now active between 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week. St Johns County residents can call the hotline at (904) 824-5550 for information regarding facility closures, program cancellations, and current St Johns County COVID-19 guidelines.
SUNSHINE BUS COMPANY SOCIAL DISTANCING
In accordance with the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations for restricting public gatherings during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Sunshine Bus Company is implementing a Social Distancing Policy restricting the number of occupants to 10 per vehicle, including the driver, and requiring patrons to maintain a six-foot distance from other passengers. To sustain transportation services during this time, drivers have been instructed to call dispatch when nine passengers have boarded their vehicle to ensure that another vehicle will be dispatched for additional passengers.
MARCH 17, 2020
ST. JOHNS COUNTY DECLARES LOCAL STATE OF EMERGENCY
In response to the COVID-19 disease, the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners declared a Local State of Emergency on March 17, 2020. The declaration allows the County to access the resources necessary to prepare for, and respond to, the potential impacts of COVID-19 disease within the community. In addition, St. Johns County elevated the Emergency Operations Center with a level two partial activation to assist in the response.
The Local State of Emergency declaration allows St. Johns County to take actions necessary to effectively respond to emergency conditions and mitigate disaster effects in an expedited manner through the acquisition of equipment, the securing of contracts, and qualification for FEMA reimbursement. The Board of County Commissioners, St. Johns County Administration, and Emergency Management Staff are responding to the development of COVID-19 within the United States, the state of Florida, and St. Johns County, following recommended CDC guidelines, and preparing accordingly.
GOVERNOR SUSPENDS BARS AND NIGHTCLUBS
Gov. Ron DeSantis is suspending all bars and nightclubs in Florida for the next 30 days starting at 5pm Tuesday night. Restaurants must also limit their seating capacity to 50 percent. All restaurant employees must also be screened for the virus. State officials are encouraging people to utilize takeout and delivery at local restaurants in lieu of dining in.
PUBLIC MEETING CANCELLATIONS
Based on the recommendations of the Governor’s office the City of St. Augustine has executed an administrative order authorizing the cancellation of all public meetings through April 1, 2020, which includes:
- City Commission, with the exception of emergency meetings, as needed
- Code Enforcement, Adjustments and Appeals Board
- Historic Architectural Review Board
- Planning and Zoning Board
MARCH 16, 2020
UPDATE FROM THE CITY
As the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19) incidents impact our community, the City of St. Augustine is continuing its efforts to curb the threat of the spread of Coronavirus by cancelling all non-essential meetings that do not address the immediate operations and function of municipal business. The City Commission, Historic Architectural Review Board, Planning & Zoning Board, and Code Enforcement, Adjustments and Appeals Board meetings will be limited to permissible attendance numbers in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
At this time, all other workshops and non-essential meetings will be cancelled until further notice, this includes but is not limited to the Planning & Zoning Workshop regarding parking requirements, the Street Tree Advisory Committee, and Lincolnville Community Redevelopment Area Steering Committee.
In accordance with Florida Sunshine Law and observing best practices of social distancing, The Alcazar Room will be open to the public but limited to an occupancy load of less than 50 people and the overflow space will be made available, also in compliance of CDC recommendations. Anyone who wishes to attend in person will be allowed until the occupancy limit is reached.
The following decisions go into effect immediately:
- The City Commission agenda will be limited to only those items essential to city business. Items that are not time-sensitive may be postponed.
- In regards to public comment, and in lieu of physical attendance, the city encourages individuals to submit comments via email to [email protected] which will subsequently be read into the public record.
- For those organizations receiving a recognition and/or proclamation from the City Commission, the city is requesting representation by one attendee.
- The city has also determined that non-essential staff will not attend public meetings in person, but will monitor meetings online through the city’s website at www.CityStAugTV.com.
- In compliance with best practices of social distancing, city staff will be minimizing person-to-person contact by holding meetings through teleconference and online virtual meetings.
- Until April 1, 2020, to ease the burden of past due balances for utilities, the city will not shut off water service.
- Customers who wish to submit permit applications or pickup approved permits should not appear in person, but instead correspond via email to [email protected] for Planning & Building permits, and [email protected] for Public Works permits.
- Customers who wish to make payments for utilities or permits, should not appear in person, but instead call to make payment arrangements over the phone:
Customer Service (utility billing): 904.825.1037
Planning & Building (building permits, business licenses): 904.825.1065, ext. 2
Public Works (right-of-way and site construction permits): 904.825.1040, ext. 6
ST. JOHNS COUNTY GARBAGE, RECYCLING, YARD DEBRIS
St. Johns County’s garbage, recycling, and yard debris collection schedule will not change due to any COVID-19 related closures during the week of March 16. All collections will continue as scheduled on standard collection days. The Tillman Ridge and Stratton Road solid waste scale houses will remain open during standard business hours. For more information, please call 904.827.6980.
MARCH 13, 2020
In response to Public Health Emergency 20-15 (COVID), St. Augustine City Manager John Regan announced actions being taken to assist City utility customers. If a customer needs special assistance with utility bills during this time, please reach out to our Customer Service Department to create a solution that works for you. Please call at 904.825.1037 or email at [email protected]
MARCH 12, 2020
The Florida Department of Health reported the first confirmed case of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in St. Johns County on Wednesday, March 12. The travel-related case involves a 63-year-old, male, New York resident who was quarantined and remains isolated until cleared by public health officials. The County urges residents to continue to follow basic infection prevention guidelines including washing hands often, avoiding contact with sick people, cleaning high-touch surfaces, and staying home when sick. For additional Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) information, residents are encourage to utilize the following informational tools:
- Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Call Center – 1.866.779.6121
- St. Johns County Department of Health – 904.209.3250
- Florida Department of Health – www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19
- Centers for Disease Control – www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Florida Department of Health Email – [email protected]
Early voting will continue from 9am to 6pm on March 13 and 14 at all six early voting locations. All polling places will be open from 7am to 7pm on Election Day, Tuesday, March 17. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes will be provided at all voting locations for workers and voters.
Featured image via the City of St. Augustine