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Marco Island requests Gov. DeSantis to allow more businesses to reopen

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, laughs beside Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, right, during an appearance at the "Oh Sooo Jazzy" hair salon in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, May 2, 2020. The governor was there to discuss guidelines for reopening businesses during the coronavirus epidemic.

Marco Island City Council sent a letter Wednesday to Gov. Ron DeSantis requesting more businesses be allowed to open on the island.

Vice-chair Grifoni wrote the letter with unanimous support from council members.

"I wanted to reach out to Gov. DeSantis to ask him to provide some leeway to cities like ours who can maybe make decisions on the ground based on current health situations," Grifoni said Monday during the City Council meeting.

The city's decision to reopen local businesses would be made in consultation with local health authorities, according to Grifoni.

"For Marco Island specifically, you can kind of see where there might be some areas where we can work with our local business community because we don't have a lot of big corporations," he said.  

Grifoni said a significant majority of businesses in the island are small.

"They are owned by people who live on the island, who work on the island, who employ people on the island [...], and for them it's a very difficult economic situation," he said.

"And if there is a way to help them out safely then [...] it would be great to make that happen."

Councilor Victor Rios said restaurant owners have told him they can't open at 25% capacity for indoor seating as ordered by Gov. DeSantis.

"They are not operating unless they get 50%," he said. "It's financially impossible for them."

Chairperson Erik Brechnitz said if it were up to him restaurants could open "as long as they observe the social distancing 6-feet requirement."

Reporter Patrick Riley with the Naples Daily News reported on May 6 that starting this week Collier County will allow "certain restaurants to apply for a temporary use permit to expand the areas available to offer outdoor seating."

More:Collier to issue temporary permits for some restaurants to expand outdoor seating

And:Our Daily Bread: Food pantry seeing a 300 percent spike in need

The county has had 656 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of May 5, according to a Florida Department of Health report. Out of 586 cases involving Florida residents, 111 or 19% have resulted in hospitalization and 25 or 4% in death.

The hospitalization rate in the county is 2% higher compared to the state but their death rates are virtually the same.

In Marco Island, 15 residents have tested positive as of May 5. In Naples, 503 residents have tested positive, 63 in Immokalee, four in Ave Maria and one in Ochopee.

Omar Rodríguez Ortiz is a community reporter for Naples Daily News and Marco Eagle. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram as @Omar_fromPR and support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.