Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered bars and nightclubs throughout Florida closed for 30 days and placed restrictions on restaurant seating. Locally, the city of Lakeland is closing all recreation centers and libraries at the end of business today for at least 30 days, and the Polk Museum of Art announced it is postponing this year’s Mayfaire-by-the-Lake art festival.
These announcements come as state local organizations continue fine-tuning plans to reduce crowds as a way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease.
“Bars and nightclubs, effective 5 p.m. today, they’re going to be suspended for 30 days in the state of Florida,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday morning. “You’ve seen a lot of things about people congregating at some of these things. We view that as something that could be problematic for spreading the virus.”
- Ordered restaurants to operate at a maximum of 50% capacity with at least 6 feet between tables.
- Asked that beach parties be limited to groups of 10 people.
- Requested state universities continue offering instruction only online through the end of the spring semester so that students can return home.
As of 11 a.m. today, the state is tracking 192 COVID-19 cases. No confirmed cases have been reported in Polk County so far, although several other counties reported their first cases today.
The announcement about local rec centers and libraries came near the end of a Facebook video of Mayor Bill Mutz reading updates about city services.
Facilities that will close include the Main Library on Lake Morton, Larry Jackson Branch Library, eLibrary, Simpson Park Community Center, Kelly Recreation Complex, Coleman-Bush Building, Gandy Pool, Lake Mirror Complex and the Splash Pad at Barnett Family Park.
Outdoor facilities at Lakeland parks and playgrounds remain open.
Mutz said the city has no plans to provide day-care services for children while schools are closed, and he reiterated Lakeland Electric’s announcement that utility customers will not see service suspended for non-payment of bills for the time being. Garbage pickup service remains unchanged, he said.
For those who have checked out library materials, due dates for items currently out will be extended to June 1, and no fines will be assessed during this period, according to an email sent to library patrons.
No new date has been announced yet for the 49th annual Mayfaire-by-the-Lake, which is traditionally held on Mother’s Day weekend.
The announcement it would be postponed came as the Polk Museum of Art said it would close to the public until further notice and that museum staff will work remotely. All March and April events at the museum have been canceled.
The Citrus Connection has partnered with the Polk County School Board to extend a program that provides free bus service to students. Normally available to high school system, COLTS — Community of Learning Transportation Services — will be offered to students age eight and older until further notice in order to help families with transportation during the coronavirus crisis.