Santa Rosa County and the cities of Milton and Gulf Breeze are the latest municipalities in the Panhandle to cancel large, publicly permitted events in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The move, announced Friday afternoon, only applies to events that are permitted through the municipalities and doesn't include schools, churches or private events, according to a news release from Santa Rosa County Emergency Management.
The cancellations are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and general guidance from the governor.
Santa Rosa County is canceling all publicly permitted events with 500 people or more, and officials plan to reassess the situation in two weeks. While the county does not currently have publicly permitted events that are affected by the announcement, organizers have announced voluntary cancellations of events including the Spring Festival of Flowers, originally set for April 3-5 at the Pensacola State College campus in Milton.
In the city of Gulf Breeze, no public permits for events with more than 500 people will be considered before the end of March. Two events have voluntarily canceled, the Quarterback Carnival and the Gulf Breeze Arts Festival. Gumbo Fest is rescheduled to Saturday, May 2, while Spring Fest is tentatively scheduled for April 18, according to the release.
In the city of Milton, publicly permitted events of more than 250 people have been canceled, including the spring schedule of Bands on the Blackwater, and will be reassessed in the next few weeks.
On Thursday evening, both Escambia County and the city of Pensacola announced they would suspend all permitted events with 500 people or more for at least two weeks, starting Monday.Now canceled events include Ciclovia on March 28, Gallery Night on March 20, Smokin' in the Square on March 20 to 22 and Palafox Market on Saturdays through the end of March.
Santa Rosa County has had one death from coronavirus and no community spread. Florida has seen more confirmed coronavirus cases in recent days, with 45 cases involving Florida residents, six involving non-Florida residents and five Florida residents outside the state who were at federal sites and would be repatriated once they're healthy, according to state health department figures released Friday afternoon.
The Florida Department of Public Health is urging people not to attend mass gatherings if they have contact with a known or suspected case of COVID-19; are over 65 with underlying health conditions; have a compromised immune system; are ill; have been exposed to someone with a respiratory illness in the last two weeks; have a chronic health condition; have traveled internationally in the last two weeks, especially places under a level 3 advisory or have traveled to or from an area with widespread community transmission of COVID-19.
All local governments have provided first responders with personal protective equipment.
The announcement of the latest round of cancellations comes the same day as President Donald Trump declared the a national emergency over coronavirus, directing billions to help fight the virus.
Madison Arnold can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 850-435-8522.