ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County is working to stop the spread of COVID-19 while educating and reminding business owners to do their part.
On Tuesday, the county’s economic recovery task force met virtually and voted unanimously to employ strike teams that will soon target businesses in violation of coronavirus prevention measures put in place by the county.
"To ensure they are implementing safety protocol and displaying appropriate signage in the business," said Mayor Jerry Demings.
The strike teams will visit businesses that aren’t practicing keeping a safe distance, places where employees and customers don’t wear a mask and places where they don’t see proper signage urging people to stay 6 feet apart.
“The teams will also have educational materials and will also be distributing PPE to business who may fall short,” Demings said.
The county said the goal is to educate and gain compliance for all businesses when it comes to the mask mandate and safety measures.
“There are already penalties in line for businesses. The strike team, or the compliance team, what they’re doing is going to businesses who are not complying, or maybe they just don’t understand - so it’s a matter of education as well,” said Roderick Zak, a member of the compliance committee on the task force. “We want to see this thing eliminated.”
Jason Lambert, the owner of The Hammered Lamb restaurant in downtown Orlando, said he’ll do what it takes to keep his workers and his customers safe so his business can stay open.
“We’ve got hand-washing stations as soon as you walk in the door, sanitizer, we’ve got sanitizer on all the tables, we have masks available,” Lambert said. “We’re absolutely taking every precaution that we can.”
He said he’s also testing his workers once a month and doing his part to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We’re doing this not just for ourselves, but for the whole community,” Lambert said.
There’s no timeline yet on when the strike teams will go out into the community.
If a business is found in violation of countywide orders, actions taken by the strike teams may include the following, according to motion unanimously passed by the task force:
- A site visit
- A discussion about the nature of the violation(s)
- A review of mask compliance, sanitation, business best practices, etc.
- Education to the business about the need for the executive order
- Providing materials (posters with public health messaging, PPE, etc.) to the business
Demings said in an extreme case, businesses could face regulatory penalties.
The strike teams are comprised of Orange County health leaders, county code enforcement officials and fire marshal inspectors.