Ocala mayor says city will not enforce some state guidelines for reopening
OCALA, Fla. - Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn says guidelines set for phase one of Florida's reopening are in violation of people's rights.
The defiant mayor is ordering police officers not to enforce phase one rules set by Gov. Ron DeSantis, citing unlawful restrictions over freedom to assemble.
"This needs to end and we all need to go back to work," Guinn says. "We’re not going to arrest people for gathering. If there’s more than 10 people, we are not going to stop them."
Under the governor's first steps of reopening, restaurants and retail shops are limited to 25 % capacity.
"We are not going to go around the city and count occupancy or capacity in restaurants," the mayor says.
Ocala restaurants are caught in the middle. Ivy On The Square just reopened on Tuesday at limited capacity.
"We did a thorough cleaning of the restaurant to make sure everything was up to par," says Kate Matthews, general manager. "We rearranged the dining room and patio so everything within the restrictions and guidelines of social distancing."
Matthews says she supports the mayor but she intends to follow guidelines of the governor.
"Do we want to do that? Of course not! We want to open our doors, but we don’t want to get shut down either."
The Health Department is warning them not to have anyone sitting at the bar. The mayor says the city won’t be reporting violators to the state; however, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation has the power to block the mayor..
"We don’t want to get shut down, and they have the power to shut us down," Matthews adds.