Coronavirus leads to city curfew, statewide order
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues as confirmed cases and death tolls continue to rise worldwide.
The Florida Department of Health reported 93 cases in Volusia County and 22 in Flagler County as of the Daytona Times Wednesday night deadline – and rising. There are at least 12 confirmed cases in Daytona Beach. Florida has more than 7,700 cases with more than 100 deaths – and rising.
The city of Daytona Beach issued a curfew after a special City Commission meeting on Tuesday. The curfew is effective April 2 through April 8 and goes from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. It could last longer.
On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a 30-day stay-at-home order effective midnight April 2.
On Wednesday afternoon, Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri held a press conference at police headquarters to discuss enforcing the curfew and the state-wide order.
Capri said, “All this is being done to slow down the spread of COVID-19. I think these are necessary steps that we need to do. I am glad that we are moving in that direction.”
At the City Commission meeting, Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry mentioned that he got complaints from residents about large gatherings and parties.
“I personally haven’t seen any large groups. I’ve heard of some street parties. I can confirm one. We showed up and everyone left,” responded Capri.
Capri spoke about how the curfew will be enforced.
“Common sense will be our guide. Compliance is the preferred method. We have been getting about 98-percent compliance (concerning social distancing) in our city. Our citizens and businesses have been great.
“We are in an unprecedented time not only as a city, state and country, but as a world. The faster we can do this together, the faster we can get back to our normal lives,” explained Capri.
Officers are also taking precautionary measures to keep themselves safe, including sanitizing precincts, stations, vehicles and equipment.
Not bringing anything home
Capri noted, “We sanitize everything twice a day. We are constantly trying to keep a safe distance from people. We’re trained to keep our distance at the police academy. We are using gloves and protection, since we deal with some nasty people at times.
“We don’t ever want to bring anything home. I think that gives us a leg up over the citizens. We are prepared as a department and as a city. No officers have COVID-19. We want to keep it that way.”
Those who are caught out during the curfew won’t automatically be arrested.
“We’re going to going to make them an offer they can’t refuse,” the chief said. “Compliance will lead the way. We take the time to explain what’s going on.
“The streets have been a ghost town after 6 p.m. in recent weeks. We won’t arrest law-abiding citizens. If you’re out breaking the law or breaking into businesses, you will be arrested.”
The City Commission did mention on Tuesday the possibility of a citation for violators. Violating the curfew is punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor according to state statutes and the city code.
Law enforcement aren’t doing extra patrols, but police presence has increased.
“Extra officers have been assigned each night. We are guarding business and city property. Our parks are closed. People are complying,” added Capri.
Good or bad?
Speaking about the curfew, Aaron Young, a local resident, told the Daytona Times, “I’m good with it. I don’t have to work but for now, I am still getting paid. I still don’t think everyone will follow the curfew. People are still trying to and finding ways to go party.”
Young also weighed in on the statewide stay-at home order.
“It’s good for safety reasons. I think they should have some type of food assistance since so many people aren’t working and not making money,” said Young.
About the curfew
Exceptions to the curfew include: travel to and from work, medical emergencies, food delivery services (including third parties), emergency utility repairs, and dog-walking, provided that these activities are done according to guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Food pantries can operate according to CDC guidelines, including those run by the Daytona Beach Housing Authority, existing houses of worship, and other 501(c)(3) non-profits under conditions imposed by the city manager.
Under the state order, a partial list of essential services and businesses that can be open include grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, police stations, paramedic facilities, fire stations, public transportation, hospitals, clinics and health care operators, and financial and food services.
People can go to and from work, outside to walk their dog or exercise, buy food, and visit family members to assist the those who are elderly, minors, dependents and with medical conditions.