Different levels of government have different levels of authority and responsibility. This can be confusing! Let’s break it down:
Federal Government: On March 1, 2020, the federal government declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency. This enables the federal government to create laws and policies, direct resources to states and individuals, and enact restrictions in the interest of the safety and well-being of people in the United States. For more information, please read the FEMA Emergency Declaration.
Florida State Government: On March 10, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the state of Florida. This allows the state government to distribute resources to communities in need and enact restrictions to businesses and individuals in the interest of public health. All cities and counties within the state of Florida must follow state orders as a minimum guideline. For more information, please visit the Office of the Governor's Division of Emergency Management.
Alachua County Government: On March 16, 2020, Alachua County Commission Chair Robert Hutchinson declared a state of emergency for the county. This gives the county emergency powers to waive normal procedures related to things such as spending public funds, holding public meetings remotely, and creating emergency plans and policies like the stay-at-home order issued on March 24, 2020. In the event that there are differences between county, state and federal orders, the county defers to the state and federal government. It is important to note that the county can’t enact less strict orders, but it can enact stricter orders than the state. For more information, please visit the Alachua County Community Resource Portal.
City of Gainesville Government: On March 16, 2020, Mayor Lauren Poe declared a local state of emergency in the city. This allows for the city manager and Gainesville Regional Utilities Manager to take action to protect our neighbors and control the spread of COVID-19. These actions include enacting orders regarding businesses’ hours of operation, closing city parks and issuing public gathering guidelines. If there are differences in city and county orders, the city defers to the county. For more information, please visit the City of Gainesville COVID-19 Updates portal.
School Board of Alachua County: All public schools in Gainesville are governed by the five members who serve on the School Board of Alachua County (SBAC). The SBAC has the power to make decisions regarding how public schools will proceed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBAC defers to the Florida Commissioner of Education’s Office. Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran has announced that schools will remain closed through May 1 due to COVID-19. For more information, please visit the Alachua County Public Schools COVID-19 Updates Portal.