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Orange County and Osceola County implement curfew during coronavirus pandemic

Curfew in effect between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. beginning March 20

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up daily life in a way we have never seen. In the wake of new cases and the urgency to halt the spread of COVID-19, Orange County leaders and Osceola County leaders have decided to implement a curfew for those living within the county beginning Friday night.

While most in Central Florida are used to a curfew during hurricane season, this curfew comes at a time when no storms are barreling towards the state.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said that the curfew is necessary to keep Floridians safe.

"We must continue to practice social distancing and be mindful of unnecessary trips and social interactions," said Demings. "Only go out if you are required to do so for work. Other exemptions for the curfew include essential workers like medical personnel, government personnel, first responders."

Viviana Janer, the chairwoman of the Osceola Board of County Commission said law enforcement will actively enforce the curfew.

Osceola County said law enforcement will actively enforce the curfew.

“It seems like many have been ignoring the advice from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health guidance that suggests not to gather in groups of 10 or more,” said Janer. “We urge the community to shelter in places and we do say social distancing, not social isolation. Meaning, please reach out to your family and friends.”

The curfew for both counties goes into effect at 11 p.m.

“Please be mindful of the curfew and only go out if you are required to do so for work. Other exemptions for the curfew include Central Florida workers like medical personnel, government personnel, first responders, security personnel,” Demings said. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office will enforce the curfew going forward, according to Demings.

The new curfew will have residents staying inside between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. until further notice, the mayor said.

“Orange County Government has issued a curfew which prohibits persons on public streets, highways, parks or other public places,” said Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón. “Exemptions include people in search of medical assistance or food, emergency personnel, and medical professionals.”

Demings also announced that the parking lot of the Orange County Convention Center would become a COVID-19 testing site for Department of Health’s Emergency Management team to allow state and local practitioners to begin further testing.

He said another testing site would open open in eastern Orange County soon.

“One point that we would like to stress to the public is that these testing sites are not a catch-all for everyone to be tested,” Demings said. “You need to show specific signs, have underlying indicators, where you have a compromised immune system, and other specific symptoms in order to be tested at these particular sites. We do not want to public to flood to these sites, especially if you are healthy individuals.

To further assist members of the community, Demings announced a new crisis hotline and assistance program for qualified individuals.

“In terms of hardships, we realize again that our communities are experiencing various financial hardships,” Demings said. “If you have a financial hardship, I am going to announce that because of these hardship we are offering a COVID-19 rental assistance program to help those who reside in Orange County who need help with rent and utilities in the coming month. We have established a crisis hotline at 407-836-6500. The hours of operations with generally be during normal business hours, Monday through Friday.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer stressed the importance of adhering to the curfew, and especially encouraged young people to play their part in practicing social-distancing. Dyer said that the need to contain the coronavirus and to prevent further spread lies on all community members doing their part to stay home unless absolutely necessary, self-isolating and using proper hygiene methods.

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