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TDC, health department launch Pledge to Protect

Special to the Times

Coronavirus doesn’t take a vacation, but it does travel.

Because of this, the Tourist Development Council and the Florida Department of Health have launched a voluntary Pledge-to-Protect program in which Franklin County tourism businesses commit to clean and healthy standards for their guests and employees to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

TDC, DOH Pledge To Protect logo

By taking the Pledge to Protect, Franklin County businesses are committing to proper use of personal protective equipment; routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and equipment; practicing social distancing and minimized contact; and enforcing any sick employees to stay home.

In return, participating businesses will receive a certificate of commitment, face masks for all employees, disposable paper place mats for restaurants and a window cling for the business window.

Additionally, participating businesses will receive additional exposure through the Pledge to Protect program webpage.

Businesses may take the pledge by emailing your interest to FranklinCHD@flhealth.gov. In return, the health department will release a list of Pledge to Protect businesses every Friday and business names will be added to the TDC’s webpage at floridasforgottencoast.com/pledgetoprotect

“The safety of our residents and the visitors of Franklin County is paramount,” said John Solomon, TDC director. “We hope this collaboration between Franklin and Gulf TDCs, along with the Franklin/Gulf Health Department will help minimize the spread of the virus moving forward.”

It’s a message echoed by the County Commission, which has issued a statement that “Franklin County is committed to creating a clean, safe and healthy environment for residents and visitors as we reopen our businesses and organizations following COVID-19 restrictions.”

At Tuesday morning's meeting. County Attorney Michael Shuler told commissioners that he had drawn up a resolution that would mandate mask wearing indoors, with defined exceptions. Shuler was following up on an earlier request from county commissioners to have something to consider in the event they chose to go to mandating masks.

As of yet, they have not taken that step, and are hoping the voluntary "Pledge to Protect" program stems the growth of any new cases of COVID-19.

The cities of Apalachicola and Carrabelle also are inviting local businesses to take the Pledge to Protect.

Anyone interested in up to date COVID-19 statistics in Franklin County may visit the health department’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage at www.FloridaHealth.gov/COVID-19. The webpage remains the best and most up-to-date resource for information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida.

The Franklin and Gulf County Health Department locations are open, and will remain open as staff continues to work on the COVID-19 response efforts. For more information, call the Florida Department of Health in Franklin County at 653-2111. To receive local COVID-19 updates straight to your phone, text “FranklinCV19” to 888777 in Franklin County.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling (866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov

Main Street to distribute masks

Apalachicola Main Street will have 1,000 free reusable masks available on Friday, Aug. 21 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Tamara’s Tapas Bar, located at 77 Market Street.

Business owners and employees are invited to stop by to pick up washable masks provided courtesy of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Apalachicola Main Street, Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated to economic development in the context of historic preservation in downtown Apalachicola. For questions about the mask distribution event, please contact Executive Director Augusta West at awest@apalachicolamainstreet.org or (844) 272-2523.