WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Ocala mayor: Police won’t enforce governor’s emergency orders

Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn says he took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Photo: Joe Byrnes

Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

Mayor Kent Guinn announced Friday that Ocala police will not enforce the governor’s emergency orders restricting businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mayor considers them unconstitutional. But he warned that the state could still crack down on businesses that violate them.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered a step-by-step reopening to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

In Phase One, some businesses remain closed. Others must use safety measures and limit customers.

It’s hurting real people, Guinn said. “People that cry when I talk to them and tell me, ‘Mayor, I’m losing everything I had. I worked 30 years in my business and I never thought I’d come to this. I’m going out of business.'”

About 15 supporters attended the press conference and cheered his decision.

One of them, Chris Schweers, is co-owner of Ocala’s Downtown Diner. He said they’re already ignoring the governor’s orders.

“We’re going to go ahead and just make up our own mind,” he said. “So we are prepared to break that. I haven’t had a boss for 12 years. Unfortunately, the governor he’s no longer my boss, I guess is the way you could say that.”

The diner’s been open at a hundred percent for a while. But he said the customers have been slow to return.

Ocala Councilman Matt Wardell doesn’t think the mayor should pick and choose which laws to enforce. And he says those orders are the law.

He said DeSantis wants to reopen quickly, but in the right way, following the numbers and moving methodically.

“I trust that this isn’t going to be long, if things keep going the way they are,” Wardell said. “So, it concerns me that what is working is working and to deviate from that, you know, it is concerning, yeah.”

Wardell said his own workplace, the Reilly Arts Center, could be one of the last ones allowed to reopen.


Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida COVID-19 news, updates on special programs and more. Support our extended coverage.

GET THE LATEST

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes

Reporter

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.

TOP