Clermont Mayor Gail Ash would like to share the following message:

Dear Clermont community,

We would like to update you regarding the reopening plans taking effect in our state, county and city.

We understand the excitement around the reopening of stores, restaurants and parks, as well as the need for our economy to begin to recover. However, we urge you to exercise caution and follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including practicing social distancing and wearing a cloth face covering in public. It is important that together we continue slowing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has taken the lives of at least 13 Lake County residents and over 67,600 Americans.

Here is a closer look at the reopening plans for Florida, Lake County and Clermont.

Florida Begins Phase 1

Phase 1 of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s plan to reopen Florida took effect today, following the expiration of his stay-at-home order.

The governor announced his plan in his April 29 executive order (https://bit.ly/3d3V9b6). The plan to reopen Florida focuses on protecting the vulnerable, increasing testing, promoting social distancing, supporting hospitals and protecting healthcare workers, as well as preventing more cases from being introduced from outside of the state. The plan also supports eventually reaching the highest practicable level of business operation while maintaining public health and safety, so that all Floridians can return to work in a later phase and the economy can recover.

Phase 1 parameters include:

  • Schools remain distance learning.
  • Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited.
  • Elective surgeries can resume.
  • Restaurants may offer outdoor seating with 6 feet of space between tables and indoor seating at 25% capacity.
  • Retail can operate at 25% of indoor capacity.
  • Bars, gyms and personal services such as hairdressers continue to remain closed to services and may continue to sell retail products.

Phase 1 also gives the following cautions:

  • Vulnerable individuals (those over 65 and those with serious underlying medical conditions) should avoid close contact with people outside the home.
  • All individuals, when in public, should maximize physical distance from others.
  • Avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 in circumstances that do not readily allow for physical distancing.
  • Face masks are recommended for all those in face-to-face interactions and where you cannot social distance.

The governor stated that Phase 1 does not need to take months, and the decision to move to the next phase will be based on key health metrics and guided by medical authorities.

A Phase 1 FAQs list contains helpful information (https://bit.ly/3c3C0WN). In addition, the governor’s slideshow presentation on Phase 1 provides further insight (https://bit.ly/2ydBSoN).

The governor also announced that Florida State Parks reopened today with limited access (https://bit.ly/2WmWZNq).

Lake County Announces Additional Guidance

On May 1, Lake County government announced additional COVID-19 protocol guidance in support of the governor’s reopen Florida order (https://bit.ly/LCEmergencyOrder).

Here are some key takeaways:

  • The vulnerable (those 65 or older and those with underlying medical conditions) are strongly encouraged to stay home and to take all measures to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Employers are encouraged to allow employees to work remotely if able, especially the vulnerable.
  • Businesses’ employees and patrons must stay at least 6 feet apart; businesses must limit their occupancy to do so and must post signage reminders. If feasible, touchless hand sanitizer stations will be provided.
  • Groups of people greater than 10 are not permitted to congregate in any space that does not readily allow for appropriate social distancing.
  • All boaters using Lake County waterways shall comply with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s order requiring no more than 10 people per vessel and that a minimum of 50 feet be maintained between vessels.
  • Religious services are considered essential activities. If seniors and those with underlying health conditions choose to attend religious services, they are advised they are putting themselves at risk of COVID-19.

Clermont Reopens Select Amenities

Under the council and my direction, City Manager Darren Gray has devised a phased city plan based on the governor’s plan to reopen Florida.

Here is Phase 1 of our plan regarding city services and buildings, as announced in April 29 news release (https://bit.ly/2WpAAPz):

  • All city services currently being provided will continue online and by phone, including permitting and inspections.
  • We will continue to answer questions and serve the public on the city’s main line at 352-394-4081 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • City council meetings will continue to be held via Zoom and broadcasted live on the city’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/CityofClermontGovernment. The public has several options to participate.
  • The boat ramp and all city parks with select amenities reopened May 1. Park hours are from sunrise to sunset. All tennis courts and Champions Pointe Disc Golf Course Park are the only sports facilities to open. Rangers and police officers will patrol these areas to ensure the public is following guidelines from the governor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including practicing social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart from others) and not gathering in groups of more than 10 people.
  • All public restrooms remain closed until further notice.
  • The beach at Waterfront Park remains closed, as well as Champions Splash Park, playgrounds, basketball courts, shuffleboard courts, ballfields and pavilions.
  • All other city facilities also will stay closed to the public until further notice, including City Hall, Clermont City Center and the Clermont Arts and Recreation Center, including the aquatics center and the Clermont Performing Arts Center.

We also have begun implementing a cautious approach to bring back employees who are still working remotely or on standby. Employees who will be reporting to work are instructed to continue social distancing, wearing masks when interacting with the public or as felt necessary between coworkers, and disinfecting and cleaning work areas.

Our staff has been working hard to keep city services running smoothly. We have been diligently communicating with local, state and federal authorities, taking all possible precautions, and educating the public on our COVID-19 webpage, www.ClermontFL.gov/coronavirus, as well as on the city’s Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/CityOfClermont, and on our new Nextdoor app page.

We are relying on our residents, businesses, staff and visitors to help make Phase 1 of reopening successful.

We ask that you continue to be champions for slowing the spread of this terrible virus while we cautiously transition into a new future.

Remember, we are here to serve you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

– Mayor Gail Ash

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