Ocala mayor refuses to enforce governor’s order, many businesses can reopen on Monday

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Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn/file photo/Ocala Post

During a press conference on Friday, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn said that he told the Ocala Police Department not to enforce Gov. Ron DeSantis COVID-19 order.

“I wanted to let everyone know that I have instructed our chief of police of Greg Graham not to enforce the governor’s order,” said Guinn. He added, “We are not going to go around the city and count restaurant occupancy.”

Graham was not present during the announcement.

Guinn did warn that while OPD will not enforce the order, other state agencies might. He said if an agency, such as the Department of Business and Professional Regulation receives a complaint, it would be because a private citizen called and complained.


Guinn wants businesses like hair salons, gyms, and restaurants to reopen and for people to get back to work. He said is not telling anyone to ignore the order, but that his message is that this (meaning the lockdown) has to end.

“I based my decision not to enforce the order on equal protection under the law clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said Guinn

Phase one of Florida reopening was as follows:

  • All parts of Florida were allowed to resume elective surgeries
  • Both restaurants and retail were allowed to bring in customers at a 25 percent capacity. Outdoor dining will be opened so long as tables are spaced six feet apart.
  • Masks should be used in face-to-face business.
  • Movie theaters and gyms are supposed to remain closed
  • Bars, nail salons, barbershops, and other personal care services would also stay closed
  • Schools will remain closed for the time being as would nursing home visits

On April 30, Marion County Commissioner Kathy Bryant said she was urging Gov. DeSantis to let Marion County officials make their own decisions when it comes to Phase 1 reopening of businesses.

“Marion County is home to 258 hair salon establishments employing almost eleven hundred individuals, 61 gyms and fitness establishments that provide almost 450 local jobs, and over 612 restaurants with almost 10,000 employees,” said Bryant. “Our restaurants would not survive on a 25 percent seating capacity. We are urging Governor DeSantis to allow us to implement the reopen Florida Task Force Phase One Plan for restaurants, gyms, and personal services.”

On Monday, DeSantis announced via Twitter that he had cleared the way for barbershops, hairdressers, and nail salons to open statewide beginning Monday, May 11.

DeSanits said he understands the frustration of the people, but wanted to make sure that he is doing the “right and safe thing” by reopening Florida.

The Governor’s office never responded to the City of Ocala or Marion County officials

Guinn said people should just use common sense.