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“We expect this to be a long event … going into May,” Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald said during an April 2 news conference.

The coronavirus crisis that is gripping the world has prompted Florida state and local leaders to implement more stringent measures to counter the spread of the disease.

“We are not only watching; we are involved,” Volusia County Interim Community Information Director Kevin Captain said. “We are depending on each of you to take personal responsibility.”

Captain assured the audience that the county is taking actions to protect residents.

The county’s latest moves to stop and eliminate COVID-19 were announced April 2 at the county’s Emergency Operations Center near Daytona Beach.

In the wake of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ March 31 executive order for people to stay home, county leaders and medical professionals are enhancing the lockdown by reducing opportunities for people to interact closely, and by reiterating the need for frequent hand-washing and social distancing.

<img class="wp-image-3566 size-large" src="https://www.beacononlinenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/a406570494ab4d6365d5b14589dc9728-scaled.jpg" alt="MORE STRINGENT MEASURES TO COMBAT CORONAVIRUS — Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald, at right, announces new steps — including closing the beaches — the county government is taking to stop the spread of the deadly Coronavirus, while Jessica Hoffman, at left, translates the message into sign language for those with a hearing loss. Recktenwald says the county government is also closing its offices to members of the public, unless they have an appointment to do come in person. The new closures, along with renewed calls for frequent hand washing and social distancing, are intended to reduce the numbers of new cases of Coronavirus. The policies will be in effect for at least 30 days, unless county officials determine the spread of illness has subsided and the restrictions may thus be lifted.” width=”696″ height=”522″ />

MORE STRINGENT MEASURES TO COMBAT CORONAVIRUS — Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald, at right, announces new steps — including closing the beaches — the county government is taking to stop the spread of the deadly Coronavirus, while Jessica Hoffman, at left, translates the message into sign language for those with a hearing loss. Recktenwald says the county government is also closing its offices to members of the public, unless they have an appointment to do come in person. The new closures, along with renewed calls for frequent hand washing and social distancing, are intended to reduce the numbers of new cases of Coronavirus. The policies will be in effect for at least 30 days, unless county officials determine the spread of illness has subsided and the restrictions may thus be lifted.

“Stay home — the same message we’ve been pushing all along,” Recktenwald said.

DeSantis’ order allows exemptions for people who are going to and from work that is deemed essential, and for those going shopping for food or necessary items, or traveling to medical appointments.

Additional updates for Volusia County include the following:

The beaches are closed

Saying he wants “to fight the spread” of coronavirus among people in close proximity to one another on Volusia County’s biggest park, Recktenwald announced the beaches will be closed for 30 days, effective today, April 3.

Such a prolonged closure of the beach is unprecedented in the county’s history. All beach-access ramps, off-beach parking lots and beach walkovers will be closed, as well.

“Lifeguard towers will not be manned. The beach will be closed,” the county manager said.

Anyone violating the order may be arrested and charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. The violation is punishable by a fine of as much as $500 and possible jail time.

“We don’t want to throw anybody in jail,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said, adding, “If you want to be a knucklehead about it, you could get arrested.”

County-government buildings

Volusia County government offices are now closed to the public, unless someone calls or requests online an appointment to come to a county office.

The safety net

For those who are close to eviction or who may be late in paying their monthly housing expenses, Recktenwald said, the county can provide up to $2,000 in rent assistance to qualifying families. Anyone interested in applying for such assistance may contact Volusia County Community Services, either via www.volusia.org, or by calling 386-736-5955.

Bus rides are free

Volusia County’s bus system is giving free rides during the crisis.

“Effective immediately, all fares have been waived,” Recktenwald said.

Votran Route 25, which serves Deltona, has been suspended. All other routes are still in service.

But, Recktenwald added a note of caution.

“If you do not feel well, you should not be riding the bus,” he said.

Small groups only

The message to limit any gathering of people to no more than 10, and to keep a distance of at least 6 feet from others still stands.

“There was some reckless behavior last weekend,” Sheriff Chitwood said, recalling his deputies had responded to a rather large party. “Now is not the time to have a garage party and a keg and invite 100 of your friends.”

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