When the Lakeland City Commission meets Monday, it will consider extending the current seven-day closure of city parks, but Mayor Bill Mutz said he no longer plans to seek a one-week stay-at-home order or closure of non-essential businesses for now.

On Friday, Mutz suggested those moves when he told a teleconference meeting of the Lakeland Kiwanis Club and News Channel 8 that he is frustrated to see that city residents are not serious about social distancing.

“If you take seven days, maybe more, to be able to just get people to stop being together,” Mutz told the TV station. “That’s what we’re talking about. That’s what I’d be advocating.”

But this morning he said he has “decided not to make that request on Monday. After spending more time talking with other county voices, my foremost goal is for us to do this as a county, as opposed to a city which creates many additional levels of complications.”

In a text message, he continued: “Frankly, our Polk County incidents of coronavirus-infected citizens will have to rise greater than it is today to gain the general support of commissioners overall. To some degree, we have to let the numbers play the music before there is wider-spread concern.”

Mutz acknowledged in a video issued by the city on Thursday that “There’s a wide range of opinions from our current posture being too restrictive to not restrictive enough.”

Indeed, a post shared on Mutz’ Facebook page has generated a wide range of comments about whether people are keeping their distance and how far local government should go in regulating commerce.

In the Tampa Bay area, both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties have asked residents to shelter at home for a week. In Hillsborough, businesses that are unable to keep a 6-foot distance between people are being asked to close for that period.

Hillsborough’s order:

Mutz called the Hillsborough/Tampa approach “well-conceived” and is urging the Polk County Commission to take a similar position.

But County Commission Chairman Bill Braswell said he doesn’t see that happening in a county as rural and spread out as Polk.

“I just don’t see a need for it,” he told News Channel 8. “We know what it means by social distancing. We know what we should be doing. People need their paychecks. They gotta go to work.”

As of Friday, three cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Lakeland. They are among 28 confirmed cases in Polk County, where 13 involve hospitalizations. So far, 530 people have been tested for the underlying coronavirus in Polk County and 62 of those test results are pending, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The largest concentration of Polk’s cases is in Davenport, where 13 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed.

City commissioners meet on Monday at 3 p.m. in a special meeting for updates on coronavirus efforts. Most commissioners are expected to attend via teleconference.

The agenda includes an “operational report” and discussions of the city’s current state-of-emergency declaration and whether to extend or change last week’s 7-day closure of city parks.

Monday’s meeting will be broadcast live at www.lakelandgov.net/tv and onSpectrum Channel 643 or Fios Channel 43. Residents who want to comment on the agenda items are being asked to email comments to comment@lakelandgov.net.

Emails can be sent before the meeting or during it and “will either be displayed or read into the record during the appropriate portion of the meeting,” according to the commission’s agenda document.

The agenda, which was revised Friday afternoon, encourages people to watch the live broadcast but says the commission chambers at City Hall will be open to the public.

However, a video released by the city Friday night indicated attendance at City Hall would be restricted to 10 people who must stay six feet apart.

City of Lakeland video about Monday’s meeting:


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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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11 Comments

  1. One week is not enough, it takes 14 days to show up. ALL POLK COUNTY CARES ABOUT IS MONEY NOT OUR LIFE’S

  2. Because all the rich are not in danger, they wanna keep golfing,hitting the lakes while everyone else have to make health or paycheck decisions… Hope we can vote all of them out.

  3. The Lakeland mayor is a complete fool! People are out and about everywhere! I’m in disbelief! How about being proactive!

  4. Hi, received an alert telling everyone age 65 or older to stay home, that’s a majority of my clientele. Yet I am still required to pay booth rent as a hairdresser, because hair salons are still open. Social distancing???

  5. Surprised by this decision. You are endangering Lakeland residence by not enforcing the stay at home law except for grocery shopping, medical viisits (thought many Dr. have canceled non-essential visits), etc. If we have a spread of this virus in Lakelalnd, you are the one that people will hold responsible. Many places in FL are considered hotspots.

  6. At some point we must make a personal decision for our families. Imagine what it would be without you in their lives. We must be smart and make healthy decisions. Money and power cannot make this one go away. Be smart people. Wake up!!

  7. You all need to OPEN YOUR EYES before they’re closed for you by the coroner!! You’re backwoods, good old boy mind frame is going to get A LOT of your residents sick or killed. Look around, look how crowded the Walmart on 98 is ALL the time. No one is enforcing social distancing! You need to be vigilant, it’s already too late!!! Shut non essentials down NOW! I don’t want a call that my children or grandchildren are sick because of the sheer irresponsibility of county commissioners! Hillsborough County has started in the right direction but like so much of Florida, it’s too late. Stay home & save lives.

  8. The city needs to be shut down yesterday. Why are we waiting until we are sick. Numbers have already more than doubled since Friday. Shut it down!

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