City of Jacksonville releases guidelines for phased re-opening of businesses

by Andrew Lugo Jacksonville Communications Director

APRIL 24, 2020 -- The city of Jacksonville has released these guidelines for businesses operating within the city limits, which details a phased opening while adhering to social distancing guidelines. The first phase of openings is set to begin Friday, May 1.

Mayor Randy Gorham, Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Fortner and City Manager Greg Smith each presented on this plan.

“First, I want to thank all the city first responders: Jacksonville Fire and EMS. Jacksonville Police Department, and all the nurse and doctors that have been on the front like during this pandemic," Mayor Randy Gorham said. "Everyone one of you is a hero. To all the employees that have been working in all the essential businesses thank you.

"Beginning May 1, the city will begin the process of opening of our city. These last three or four weeks have been challenging, to say the least, and an experience that most of us have never been through before. Nevertheless, the citizens of Jacksonville have stepped up to the challenge and abided by the governor’s order that he issued at the end of March and the city of Jacksonville Emergency Management Team’s recommendations.

"The re-opening meets the guidelines set forth by the federal government and President Trump. The plan will allow businesses to reopen to the public, while protecting the public and workers. Please remember that federal or state government orders will supersede the city and its authority dealing with the reopening.

"Furthermore, as we ‘open back up,’ we must do everything that we can to ensure that we continue to be vigilant and keep the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum. We have a plan, and I will now let our Fire Chief, Keith Fortner give details on the medical aspect of the reopening, then City Manager, Mr. Greg Smith, present the plan details with you."

Jacksonville Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Fortner continued, “Thank you for your time and attention as the Emergency Management Team begins to roll out the phase I process of reopening the city of Jacksonville. Over the last couple of months, the Emergency Management Team has continuously monitored and assessed the ongoing status of the COVID-19 virus in its development and the impact it has had on our citizens and economy.

"I would like to share the current statistics as of the time of this press release (11:15 a.m., Friday, April 24):

• There have been 13 positive cases in Cherokee County.

• One case was within the city of Jacksonville.

• There has been one death that COVID-19 contributed to.

• Of the total 13 cases, only four active cases remain after today.

• Currently, there are no reported active cases of COVID-19 in the city of Jacksonville.

"As we proceed to initiate phase I of reopening, I would like to reiterate the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations that most all of you have already implemented and will need to continue throughout these phases."

City Manager Greg Smith went through the Phase 1 reopening plan, listing the businesses that can re-open, with restrictions and the business that cannot reopen.

Businesses that can reopen with restrictions

o retail stores;

o hair salons, tanning salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors;

o professional offices;

o general offices (which provide non-essential services);

o medical offices; and

o manufacturing.

Businesses that cannot reopen

o public gathering businesses or locations;

o venues;

o gyms;

o movie theaters;

o nursing homes to visitors;

o restaurant dining rooms ;

o bars; and

o sporting facilities.

Smith stated “The city of Jacksonville will evaluate the next phase of openings May 10 and determine what if any other business may open. Phase II openings could be May 15. There are no changes in closures to any of city facilities.”

The city of Jacksonville is also following the Governor’s guidelines of places of worship.

“Please keep in mind that the guidelines are part of the city’s emergency declaration and must be followed," Gorham said. "Individual actions can keep this progress moving forward. If we do not stay vigilant, the spread COVID -19 or increase in positive cases could and will impact the city’s plan.

"Again, I want to thank our citizens, and our businesses and workers for the diligence they have shown over the past weeks. It is imperative that we all take personal responsibility during the reopening and moving forward. Good day! Enjoy the fabulous weather outside, and God bless.”

For more information, please visit the city of Jacksonville website’s Emergency Management page at

For questions, please contact the city at (903) 586-5916, or