Commission Chairman Jeb Smith looks at reopening strategy

Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, Jeb Smith, wrote to Historic City News on Friday to bring our readers and subscribers up to date as St Johns County wraps up Week-1 of their long-awaited reopening strategy.  According to Smith, we are experiencing additional openings and program offerings while we continue to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 in our community, respecting social distancing guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control.

Launched on Monday, May 4, 2020, the first phase of St Johns County’s reopening coincided with the Governor’s Executive Order which partially opened businesses and restaurants. It included opening of the beaches from dawn to dusk for all uses and activities, opening libraries for curbside pickup from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and opening the St Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier to the public, with no access fee.

“We have focused our attention on the economic recovery of St Johns County and supporting our local small businesses,” Smith began.  “During the Board meeting on Tuesday, May 5th, we approved three grants to help business recovery and the future of our local economy including a CARES Act grant, a CDBG-funded grant, and a St Johns County Industrial Development Authority grant to fund the St Johns County Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.”

On Wednesday, the Board launched “Shop & Dine St Johns County”, a program encouraging patrons to support our local retailers and dining establishments. The first phase of the program includes a convenient and easy online location for residents and visitors to find businesses and dining establishments that are open and serving the public.

Visit www.shopanddinesjc.com to find interactive maps and directories of contact and service information for businesses and dining establishments. If you are a local St Johns County business or dining establishment and would like to be included in the Shop & Dine St Johns County campaign, or provide updated information, select “Add Your Business Service” or “Add Your Dining Establishment”.

Beginning Monday, May 11, on-beach driving will resume at all beach access ramps. Annual on-beach driving passes will also be available at all beach toll booths, and all standard tolls will apply. We also extended all 2020 annual on-beach driving passes through the 2021 beach season. Continued adherence to the CDC social distancing guidelines of limiting gatherings to no more than 10 persons and maintaining a minimum distance of six feet between parties on St Johns County beaches remains recommended.

As we continue to reopen St Johns County safely and incrementally, we will work with our health care and law enforcement agencies to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on our community and respond accordingly. Residents who have questions regarding COVID-19 recovery are encouraged to call our Resident Assistance Hotline at 904.209.1250, and members of the local business community are encouraged to call our Business Assistance Hotline at 904.209.6050.

“We would like to thank all our residents and businesses for their cooperation and willingness to follow the suggested guidelines that allow our community to continue moving forward into recovery,” Smith concluded.