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A Message from City Manager Leif Ahnell

Boca Raton Residents and Visitors,

Last night, a "Stay Home, Stay Safe" emergency order was issued to protect our City from the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic. I hope most of you have been practicing social distancing, proper hygiene and working from home, if you’re able. This newest order may be an extension of what you’re already doing to stay safe.

“Stay Home, Stay Safe” follows the recent directive for the closures of many businesses and restaurants in our City, and that came after we had closed all parks, canceled all events and meetings and closed City Hall last week. All these unprecedented measures have been taken to discourage and limit gatherings in an attempt slow the spread of this very contagious virus.

Why this latest step and why now?

This "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order is meant to preserve the health, safety and welfare of our residents. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not a quickly passing weather event or public safety issue that has a definitive ending. We don’t know if this will be a 14-day directive or if this will be our new normal for the next month; it all depends on how seriously people take it. We don't need to stay indoors 24/7, but we do need to make some changes to our daily routines. Outdoor exercise and activities are healthy and encouraged as long as social distancing is observed. 

Many of you have been taking all precautions and making the sacrifices that are required right now, and we appreciate how you are leading by example. We will continue to assess the situation and take restrictive measures as needed for the safety of the entire community, especially our healthcare workers, first responders and critical infrastructure workers who can’t work from home. If we take appropriate actions now, then we can avoid taking more drastic measures later.
 
How will it be enforced?

We’re hearing from many of you, thanks to social media. We know your frustrations and hear your criticisms about the hard decisions that are being made. With your compliance and support, we will not have to use enforcement powers. In fact, we’d prefer it if our Police Department and Code Enforcement didn’t have to respond to complaints about non-essential businesses remaining open, or groups of people gathering in parks or public spaces.

The question people should be asking is “How can I do my part to save my community from the spread of this pandemic?” not asking, “What will they do to me if I don’t comply?” We’ve seen the strain on Police Departments, EMS and Fire Departments around the country; many agencies have hundreds of employees in quarantine and out sick. We need to prevent that from happening in Boca Raton.

What is the purpose of this "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order?

The United States is now leading the world in COVID-19 cases and South Florida is quickly becoming a “hot spot.” While we know the virus can be deadly for seniors and those with compromised immunity, it’s now evident that people of all ages are at risk, including young children and healthy adults.

With no known cure and no vaccine, the best way to avoid transmission is social distancing. The purpose of this order is to encourage people to stay home, discourage social gatherings and slow the curve of cases in our area; we must avoid overwhelming our health system, first responders and critical infrastructure workers. The purpose is to save lives.

What’s next?

The next few weeks will be hard. While working from home is possible for some, it’s not possible for others. With children out of school and people out of their routines, there will be stress. We encourage you to take advantage of all the creative resources that are being developed for us now, from online meetings and chats, to online exercise classes and meditation.

There are many options for telemedicine, home delivery of meals, supplies and groceries, and online resources offered by the City including small business resources and loan programs. We’ll continue to reach out with new information and resource links on social media and through the City’s website. In the meantime, Stay Safe and Stay Home, Boca Raton.

Sincerely,
Leif J. Ahnell
City Manager
What can I do during Stay Home, Stay Safe:

The order spells out several definitions for "essential activities" you may still engage in:

Essential Retail and Commercial Activities: Residents and visitors may engage in essential retail and commercial activities and travel to or from essential retail and commercial businesses. See the detailed list that includes things like:
  • Work- if the business meets the definition of essential 
  • Groceries
  • Pet supplies
  • See a healthcare professional, if needed
  • Pickup food from a restaurant
  • Gas or repairs for your car
  • Bank or ATM
  • Obtain supplies you need to work from home
  • Any additional products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences.

Outdoor Recreational Activities : Residents and visitors may engage in outdoor activity and recreation, including, without limitation, walking, hiking, running or cycling in areas not otherwise closed to the public, while maintaining social distancing of 6 feet apart.

Personal Support Activities : Residents and visitors may travel to and from their homes to care for or support a friend, family member, or pet in another household.

All nonessential private and public gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a residence are prohibited.

If you live in an apartment, condo or another area with shared spaces, you need to keep at least 6 feet away from other people while in common areas (the lobby, mailroom, courtyards, etc.). All businesses, unless defined as an essential business, must stop activities at their facilities except for minimum basic operations, but employees can continue working from home. And if you do leave your house for “essential activities,” you are expected to stay 6 feet away from others as much as possible.

Additional Resources

201 West Palmetto Park Road
Boca Raton, FL 33432
(561) 393-7700