The following is a list of all COVID-19-related closures in Franklin County. It will be constantly updated.
Apalachicola Riverkeeper: Since 1998, Apalachicola Riverkeeper has worked for clean water and a healthy Apalachicola River and Bay. At the core of what we do is protect what we love. With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak, Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s first priority is to protect the communities we love and shift how we do our community-based work.
The March 21 Annual Member Meeting and Dinner has been postponed until December 5. Previously purchased dinner tickets will be honored. The Member Meeting & Dinner is a time we always look forward to. It's an opportunity to recognize the people who have been steadfast in protecting the Apalachicola River watershed. From past staff and board members to dedicated volunteers, we want to thank and celebrate you all in December.
Other events and meetings, like Spring Volunteer Orientation, will be postponed or turned into online gatherings. We will stay in touch through social media, e-News and our website. We're sharing watershed photos, videos and writings on Facebook. We hope the scenic beauty of the natural world provides moments reflection and strength for us all.
Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum: Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum will be temporarily closed to the public until further notice in response to concerns about COVID-19. This closure is a precautionary measure and not a result of any local cases reported.
We have been monitoring the guidelines from the CDC, White House, and State of Florida officials about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) over the last few weeks. This move is intended not only to protect our staff, visitors, and volunteers, but to contribute to the nationwide effort to prevent the spread of the disease.
We will continue to assess and monitor the official guidance and will reopen at the earliest date feasible. During our closure we will be posting CGJ WWII related articles to our website and Facebook page. - Camp Gordon Johnston Association Board of Directors
St. Patrick Catholic Church: The Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, which St. Patrick Catholic Church in Apalachicola belongs to, has suspended the church services beginning at noon this Friday, March 20. Due to the corona virus (COVID19) pandemic, church services at the church are suspended until further notice.
Constitutional offices: In order to mitigate the effects of our operations on COVID -19 exposure, the Clerk’s Office, the Tax Collector’s office, and the Property Appraiser’s office at the main courthouse will remain open to the public for mission-critical, essential services only. The Tax Collector is open and will provide all services except no driving tests will be given. Services remain available at the Carrabelle Annex location except that applications for concealed weapons licenses are suspended at this time. Electronic services are available through the Tax Collector’s website at www.franklincountytaxcollector.com.
The Property Appraiser is open and encouraging their customers to handle business by telephone or email when possible. The Clerk is open to provide court services to those seeking injunctions for protection, Baker and Marchman Acts, court payment of fines and costs including traffic tickets, and to assist pro se litigants. The Clerk will also accept documents for recording in the Official Records, and issue marriage licenses. Electronic services are available through the Clerk’s website at www.franklinclerk.com. You are encouraged to pay traffic tickets and court fines/costs online, and the website offers search of both official records and court records.
If you have an upcoming court date and have an attorney representing you, stay in touch with your attorney. Before you visit the courthouse in person, give us a call to see how we can help you remotely. The Clerk’s office telephone is 653-8861. Dial a (0) zero to get a deputy clerk who can transfer you to the appropriate division. The Tax Collector’s telephone is 653-9323. The Property Appraiser’s telephone is653-9236 and website is www.franklincountypa.net.
County offices: In following the precautionary actions taken by the Chief Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit to limit all public access to courthouses, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, effective Wednesday, March 18, Franklin County will also restrict public access to all county offices and buildings in order to promote and protect the common good. This includes Planning & Zoning, Emergency Management, Road & Bridge, Mosquito Control, Solid Waste, Parks & Recreation, Animal Control, Library Branches, and Veteran Services.
The county encourages the public to contact these offices during normal working hours by phone, fax, or emails. Contact information for each county office is located on the county’s website at www.franklincountyflorida.com. If you have difficulty locating contact information or contacting any county office call the Planning and Building office at 653-9783 Ext. 373.
County libraries: The Franklin County Public Libraries will be closed to the public until further notice. While we are closed, we still want to help and do our best to provide essential services to our community.
The Wi-Fi services for both the Eastpoint and Carrabelle branches will remain on 24/7 and is accessible from the parking lot. We will also be available during normal operating hours, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., via telephone to assist with card renewals as well as assistance with accessing e-books and audiobooks from home. We will also continue to check our book drop and process returns. All current checkouts have been extended to April 24
Applications for the Florida Department of Children and Families will be available in paper format only. Faxing services for DCF will be available by appointment only. For appointments, questions or concerns regarding this service please contact your local branch for more information.
We are now offering curbside pick-up for materials. Patrons can visit: https://catalog.wildernesscoast.org/ to access our online catalog. Patrons wishing to borrow materials from the Eastpoint or Carrabelle branches can call their local branch to reserve items for pick up. Patrons must have an existing FCPL account in order to utilize this service.
The contact information for both branches is as follows: Eastpoint Branch 670-8151 and Carrabelle Branch 697-2366
Bay Area Choral Society: The Bay Area Choral Society (BACS) is postponing its spring concert that was scheduled for Sunday, March 29 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Apalachicola and Friday, April 3 at the First United Methodist Church in Port St Joe.
After considering the many reports available on the virus, the BACS board, in consultation with the director and accompanist for the concert, felt it the prudent decision to make considering the make up of elderly BACS members and the attendees to their concerts. The development of the virus will be monitored and a decision made when a more positive outlook is established. If at all possible BACS would like to present the concert sometime later in the spring. However, if necessary, the concert could be postponed until later in the year or possibly in 2021. As many may recall Hurricane Michael effected a year postponement for the December concert. BACS’ goal is to bring an uplifting concert to the public in a healthy environment. We ask our supporters to stay tuned to the media and social networks for further developments.
ANERR: The Apalachicola National Estaurine Research Reserve Nature Center at 108 Island Drive in Eastpoint is closed until further notice.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is taking proactive measures and preventative actions to protect visitors, staff and volunteers.
Currently Florida State Parks remain open for day use, however, effective immediately, all Florida State Parks are changing day-use visitation hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Additionally, DEP is cancelling all events, activities, special event reservations, pavilion rentals and camping reservations at Florida State Parks for the next 60 days.
Existing overnight camping reservations that begin Wednesday, March 18, will be honored. Visitors must arrive prior to 5 p.m. on March 18, to secure their reservation. After Wednesday, all reservations moving forward will be cancelled and refunded. Beginning Friday, March 20, campgrounds and all overnight accommodations will be fully closed.
ReserveAmerica, the Florida State Parks partner in camping reservations, will reach out to all affected parties to refund camping reservations. ReserveAmerica can also be reached directly at 1-800-326-3521 or TDD 888-433-0287 if visitors have questions or need to modify existing reservations.
If you have any questions, you may call the Apalachicola NERR main office number, 670-7700..
Eastpoint Fire Department Charity Rib Cookoff: The 19th Annual Eastpoint Volunteer Fire Department Charity Rib Cookoff has been postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak and concerns for the public health and safety. Fire Chief George Pruett said they will have a rescheduled date at our March Monthly meeting.
"We still need corporate sponsorship and items for the Silent Auction so that when we do resume the Cook-off we will be successful . We still have a mission to preform so that doesn't change," he wrote on Facebook. "To all of the volunteers that had stepped up to the call please stay tuned as we will still need you when this gets rescheduled.
"To all of the competitors we will notify you when our event is rescheduled and thank each and every one of you for your support . In fact thank you to this whole community for the support that you have shown us. It has not gone un-noticed. Hope to see you all very soon. God Bless..."
Crooked River Lighthouse: The Crooked River Lighthouse in Carrabelle is sadly cancelling this Saturday's Farmer's Market, March 21, and the Wild Food Tour on Monday, March 23. . We are reviewing other events and may be making additional announcements in the future.
Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve: The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve remains open. However, in accordance with the CDC’s recommended practices for slowing the spread of COVID-19, we will be cancelling upcoming events through the next 30 days. Anyone with a reservation for a workshop or class will be notified separately.
This cancellations includes:
Wednesday, March 18 - Reserve Wednesday Talk ‘Seagrass Beds’
Saturday, March 20 - Apalachicola River & Floodplain Class
Saturday, March 27 - Apalachicola Bay Estuary Class
Thursday, April 2 - Bay Friendly Landscaping Workshop
Friday, April 10 - Apalachicola River & Floodplain Class
Wednesday, April 15 - Reserve Wednesday Talk ‘Taking the Temperature of Sea Turtle Nests’
City of Apalachicola: The city of Apalachicola’s second Apalachicola Areas of Critical State Concern steering group meeting on Thursday afternoon, March 19 in the Community Center at Battery Park has been cancelled. At a later date, steering group members will discuss priorities for projects related to water quality, workforce housing, infrastructure improvements and economic development in the city, and the public will be welcome to attend."
Panhandle Players: The Panhandle Players Board of Directors have been monitoring the news both locally and nationally about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) over the last few weeks. For everyone’s safety and well being, we feel it best to postpone our upcoming March 27-29 production at the Chapman Auditorium of "Dearly Departed" to a future date, which is yet to be determined. We will continue to monitor this situation and hope to reschedule the show at a future date. When you attend one of our shows, we want you to have an all-around great experience and we feel in light of the current situation that would not be possible.
If you have already bought a ticket to the current production, we will be refunding your money in full. If, and when we reschedule "Dearly Departed," you would need to purchase a new ticket.
Thank you all for your continued support of the Panhandle Players and the local arts in Franklin County, Florida. - Royce Rolstad, president
Carrabelle Culture Crawl: The Carrabelle History Museum has been monitoring the guidelines from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) over the last few weeks. New recommendations from the CDC just released today state that gatherings of 50 or more people should be postponed for the next 8 weeks. Given that guidance, we have decided to postpone the Carrabelle Culture Crawl to a future date to be determined. We will continue to monitor this situation and hope to reschedule as soon as it is feasible. The safety of our staff, volunteers and guests are the highest priority.
Cat Pointe Music: The following concerts at Cat Pointe Music have been canceled as a precaution due to COVID-19 (coronavirus). Sunday, March 15 – "Celtic on the Half Shell" and Sunday, March 22 – "Randall Closson"
If you have prepaid tickets to either of these events, please contact Cat Pointe Music for a refund. Cat Pointe Music Box Office 850-688-0952
Camp Gordon Johnston Days: David Butler, the Camp Gordon Johnston Days parade organizer and the CGJ World War II Museum board of directors are expecting less than 1,000 people to be in attendance at this outdoor, open air event. This is considered to be a safe event by the Florida Department of Health in Franklin County. David Butler and the CGJ board are moving forward with the parade tomorrow., beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Due to concerns over the Covid-19 virus and it’s affect on older populations, the Camp Gordon Johnson dinner dance scheduled for Saturday, March 14 has been canceled; Ticket refunds are available at the Senior Center..
Franklin County Schools: Franklin County public schools are getting an extended spring break. On Friday at 4 p.m., Gov. Ron Desantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran held an emergency conference call with all superintendents in the state wherein all public school districts in Florida were directed to add an additional week to their spring break. This decision was made after consulting with Federal and State health officials in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 virus.
This means that Franklin County Public School students will not return to school until Tuesday, March 31. All Franklin County School Board staff and employees will receive communication from their supervisors regarding their return to work.
Schools will not reopen until Monday, March 30 at the earliest. Disinfecting and sanitizing will occur during the closure. Over the next two weeks we will continue to monitor and communicate additional information as we evaluate the situation. Have a safe and relaxing Spring Break. - from Karen Peddie, director of human resources.
From the Elder Care Community Council (ECCC): We treasure and value each and every one of you and place your safety ahead of all other concerns. We are monitoring information about the Coronavirus COVID-19 daily and have decided to adhere to the call for social distancing. We have chosen to err on the side of caution and suspend the daily lunch program,scheduled events and activities next week Monday through Friday, March 16-20. We will keep you posted if there becomes a need to extend this closure. If you have any questions or concerns please give us a call at 850.370-0116. Warmest regards - Elder Care Community Council Executive Board.
The Florida Presidential Preference Primary: The following statement is attributable to Arizona Secretary of State Kathy Hobbs, Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, Illinois Elections Board Chairman Charles Scholz and Phio Secretary of State Frank LaRose: As each of our four states prepare for voters to head to the polls on Tuesday, March 17, we are working closely with our state health officials to ensure that our poll workers and voters can be confident that voting is safe.
Unlike concerts, sporting events or other mass gatherings where large groups of people travel long distances to congregate in a confined space for an extended period of time, polling locations see people from a nearby community coming into and out of the building for a short duration.
Further, guidance from voting machine manufacturers on how best to sanitize machines, guidance from CDC on best practices for hand washing, and guidance from our respective state health officials is being provided to every polling location.
Americans have participated in elections during challenging times in the past, and based on the best information we have from public health officials, we are confident that voters in our states can safely and securely cast their ballots in this election, and that otherwise healthy poll workers can and should carry out their patriotic duties on Tuesday.
Carrabelle Community:, from Mayor Brenda La Paz: Out of an abundance of caution and after consulting with the Carrabelle city administrator, I have requested that City Hall staff and supervisory personnel suspend all non-emergency meetings with individuals until at least the end of next week. We will reassess this decision at that time when we know more about whether or not there are confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Carrabelle and our surrounding communities.
At this point there is no indication that any of the city of Carrabelle staff has contracted COVID-19, but we must make sure they remain safe and healthy. The city operates with a small staff, thus making it imperative that not even one employee is exposed.
All city staff will be available by phone to assist the public with regular city business and answer questions. The water and sewer billing and collections department will continue to accept payments at City Hall inside the lobby and in the payment deposit box at the front of City Hall as usual.
The City of Carrabelle has three public meetings scheduled for March 19 - Special Community Redevelopment Agency meeting at 9:30 a.m., the special City Commission Meeting at 10:30 a.m.; and Planning and Zoning Board Meeting at 2 p.m.
As March 19 draws closer, we will assess the situation regarding whether or not these meetings will be rescheduled.
Since there is no vaccine for COVID-19, the focus for all of us should be to slow down the spread of this new virus as much as possible – this is critical. We all need to be involved with this effort. If you are sick, stay home to keep others from getting sick. Continue to practice social distancing and good general prevention measures.
This morning I spoke with officials from the Florida Department of Health in Franklin County who assured me if there is a "presumptive positive" case in our community, they will notify me as soon as possible. Their overall goal is to respond appropriately to help those most at risk.
Please continue to follow the CDC and Florida Department of Health guidelines. We should follow the lead of our public health officials. www.cdc.gov/ and floridahealth.gov
St. James Bay Golf Resort: Your health and safety are a top priority at St James Bay and our staff is actively monitoring the impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19). We also are taking the recommended steps to help prevent any outbreaks in our area.
Please know that St James Bay is still fully-operating for members and non-members to enjoy our array of amenities including golf, lodging and the restaurant.
As always, we encourage and promote healthy lifestyles for our visitors and staff. We ask that you please stay home if you are not well or have any symptoms.
Here are the steps we are taking to protect our customers and staff from Coronavirus:
We are cleaning the restrooms and wiping down all door handles with disinfectant at least twice a day. Extra cleaning supplies will be left in the restrooms for our customers' use.
We are wiping down the steering wheels and seats of the golf carts after every round.
We have extra hand-sanitizer available for our customers.
We have removed all items from the restaurant tables, such as salt and pepper shakers, silverware. These items as well as our tables, chairs, remotes, etc. are being sanitized after every guest.
We will no longer be serving our lunch buffet during the week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Instead, we will have all-you-can-eat specials such as fried chicken, hamburger steak and fried fish for $10.
We will still serve our Sunday Brunch this coming Sunday. However, we will have staff serving it to our customers.
For our lodging guests, we will continue to sanitize the villas and the condos after every guest just like we have always done, but we are paying special attention to door knobs, handles, etc. We are sanitizing the elevators twice a day.
While we do not have delivery service for our food, we do have take out options.
We have four managers who are ServSafe certified.
Outside of the Everglades, we have the lowest population in coastal Florida and our area has yet to see or confirm a case of Coronavirus.
It is our hope that you will continue to visit St James Bay and see all that the Forgotten Coast has to offer as this is truly a beautiful time of year for our entire area.
DEP Event Cancellations: The safety and welfare of our employees and the public we serve are of top priority to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which continues to take proactive measures and preventative actions to protect visitors, staff and volunteers as COVID-19 continues to be monitored.
Currently, all Florida State Parks and Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection facilities (aquatic preserves and National Estuarine Research Reserves) remain open to the public. However, out of an abundance of caution, DEP has made the decision to cancel all events and activities at Florida State Parks and Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection facilities effective immediately.
This decision is in line with guidance from the CDC for the public to avoid the gathering of large groups. The department will provide updates when events and activities will resume.
For the protection of our staff and our day-use visitors, all state parks, aquatic preserves, and NERRs have been provided with signage and guidance on preventative actions to reduce transmission of respiratory illness. All staff are fully informed and utilizing the protocol urged by the CDC and Florida Department of Health. Surfaces and areas that are frequently touched are consistently disinfected throughout the day, and all facilities are regularly and thoroughly cleaned to protect visitor safety.
DEP continues to be in close communication with the Governor’s Office, the Florida Department of Health and CDC regarding the most recent COVID-19 status. For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-(866) 779-6121 or emailing COVIDemail@example.com. The call center is available 24 hours a day.
If your travel plans have changed and you need to modify camping or cabin reservations, please visit www.reserveamerica.com or contact ReserveAmerica at 1-800-456-2267.
For additional information on Florida State Parks, please contact 850-245-3029. For additional information on Office Resilience and Coastal Protection facilities, contact DEP's Office of Public Services at 850-245-2119.