As lives continue to be upended, local officials have been making tough decisions in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The decisions are being made in the interest of public health and safety, according to Broward Mayor Dale Holness.
Broward County Parks Closed
An emergency order which temporarily closes Broward County parks was issued yesterday in addition to a number of relevant announcements.
Broward County Public Transit Fares Waived
Schedule changes and activities to support social distancing for bus riders have also been implemented.
Also, Broward County Transit buses are not collecting fares for riders. Ridership has gone down considerably but buses are still running. Older bus drivers who may have underlying medical conditions are being encouraged to take time off. By not collecting fares, riders don’t have to touch the fare box.
Non-Essential Businesses Closed
Another order closes non-essential businesses except grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, gas stations and restaurant dining areas.
Restaurants Offering Take Out or Delivery Only
You can pick up food at restaurants or have it delivered. (Hollywood Gazette will be printing a guide to restaurants open for take-out in the next issue.)
“There are a variety of government assistance programs, financial companies, non-profit organizations, and utilities willing to step in to help those who may be unemployed or otherwise can’t afford to pay bills due to the coronavirus,” said Holness.
Many mortgage lenders are willing to postpone mortgage payments during this crisis, without negative credit penalties. Foreclosures and evictions have been suspended for two months. Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac is allowing borrowers to suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months if you can prove financial hardship. Qualifications may be different from lender to lender.
Also, small businesses and non-profit organizations can apply for a low interest loan up to $2 million. The IRS has extended the filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.
On Monday March 16, Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program will provide short-term, interest-free loans to qualifying small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. You can apply from now until May 8, 2020.
Utility Companies Suspend Disconnection
Florida Power and Light has agreed to suspend electricity disconnection for failure to pay until the end of March. Late fees of $5 and a 1.5% penalty still apply. Teco People’s Gas has suspended disconnections through April.
Comcast has suspended service disconnections and late fees for internet customers who contact the company and explain their economic hardship due to COVID-19. The company is also offering free wi-fi hotspots and waived data caps on usage. Comcast is also offering Internet Essential services free for the next two months to low-income families who qualify.
AT&T won’t terminate your wireless phone service, home phone or broadband service for residential or small business customers who can’t pay their bill due to the coronavirus. Late payments are being waived as well. If your child is enrolled in the National School Lunch Program or Head Start, AT&T is offering two months of free service if ordered before April 30th.
To see the latest outbreak data: visit https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/#latest-stats