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Local COVID-19 FAQs

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What are the most reliable websites for updates on coronavirus cases in the U.S. and in Florida, and how to best protect myself and my family?

The CDC website at and the Florida Department of Health website at All people should follow Centers for Disease Control guidance about 6-foot social distancing, avoiding groups over 10, hand washing frequently for at least 20 seconds, and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Call your healthcare provider or County Health Department (941-861-3310 or 941-861-6133) if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and are showing symptoms (fever of 100.4 F or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell). Use the CDC’s self-checker to help make decisions and seek appropriate medical care regarding COVID-19.

Where can I get a COVID-19 test?

A state COVID-19 drive-thru testing site is available at the Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota for anyone 18 years or older regardless of symptoms, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Evaluations for COVID-19 testing are offered at Gulf Coast Medical Group Urgent Care, 1700 E. Venice Ave. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. When appropriate, testing will be done onsite.

Walk-up COVID-19 testing is offered at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center, 1845 34th St., Sarasota, is for anyone regardless of symptoms, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

In partnership with DOH Sarasota County, CenterPlace Health is hosting free drive-up testing, by appointment, at three sites in the County. This community-based COVID-19 testing is for anyone who is currently experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell) or people who work in a healthcare setting. No prescription is needed. All patients must have an appointment to be tested. Please call one of the locations below to be evaluated and scheduled for an appointment.

Child Health Center
(at the Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center)
1750 17th St., Bldg E, Sarasota
941-529-0100, then select option 3

Ringling Health Center
2200 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota
941-529-0200, then select option 3

North Port Health Center
6950 Outreach Way, North Port 
941-529-0300, then select option 3

For more information about the testing process or CenterPlace Health, visit

DOH Sarasota has ongoing by-appointment-only COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites throughout Sarasota County. This week, DOH Sarasota will have 100 COVID-19 tests available per day on July 8 and 9 at Heron Creek Middle School, 6501 W. Price Blvd. in North Port. Appointments are required at this drive-thru site. To be evaluated and to make an appointment, please call 941-861-2883, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For an updated schedule, please visit

What does Gov. Ron DeSantis' "Phase 2 Plan" that went into effect June 5 mean?

    Per Executive Order 20-139 of Gov. Ron DeSantis, most of Florida’s counties moved into Phase 2 reopenings on June 5 (except Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach).

    Details include:

    • Restaurants may operate at 50% indoor capacity and 100% outdoor capacity with social distancing of 6 feet between groups.
    • Entertainment businesses, including movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades, may operate at 50% capacity with social distancing and sanitization protocols.
    • Retail stores and gyms back to 100% capacity with social distancing and sanitization.
    • Personal service establishments, including tattoo, acupuncture and massage businesses and tanning salons, can reopen with CDC guidelines.
    • People are advised to not congregate in groups larger than 50.
    • Vulnerable individuals, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, should avoid close contact with people outside the home
    • People should continue to practice social distancing and use face masks in public when they can’t maintain 6 feet from others
    • Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited
    • Barbershops, hair salons and nail salons with enhanced safety protocols opened May 11.
    • Elective surgeries have resumed.

    Read a summary of Phase 2 openings here. 

    A note that alcohol consumption was suspended at bars statewide on June 26 per Emergency Order 2020-09. According to the order, bars can continue to serve alcohol in sealed containers for consumption offsite. The order does not apply to restaurants that serve alcohol, so long as less than 50% of their revenue comes from sales of alcohol for consumption onsite. An amended Emergency Order issued July 1 clarifies that bars with a food license may remain open, operating as restaurants, given 50% occupancy, social distancing and seated service.

    How do I contact Governor DeSantis' office?

    You can call the Governor's Office Citizen Services line at 1-850-488-7146, press option 1. 

    Will hot weather kill the virus?

    The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather and in colder climates.

    How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

    It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

    Can the virus can be transmitted on packages shipped from China or elsewhere?

    The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions is also low.

    Should I wear a facemask and gloves?

    On April 3, the CDC came out with updated recommendations for citizens wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. 

    It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. The CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

    The cloth face coverings recommended are not N-95 masks. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

    On June 20, the State Surgeon General issued a Public Health Advisory stating that all individuals in Florida should wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible. Read the advisory here.

    Gloves should only be worn only if you are a healthcare provider or handling food, NOT during daily activities such as shopping. This is because germs can be spread via the gloves’ surface to everything else you touch. Instead, wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds and disinfect commonly touched surfaces often. Hand sanitizer may be used if soap is not available.

    I don't have a face mask. Is there an easy way to make one?

    The CDC released a video showing how to make a face mask in 45 seconds. It's low-tech and uses items you have at home. Check it out here.

    The City of Venice is distributing FREE cloth face coverings to the public at additional locations in the City while supplies last.

    These masks are being distributed in a package of 5. One package per person please.

    The face coverings are available at the following locations:

    • Venice City Hall Information Center, 401 W. Venice Ave., 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday-Friday
    • Venice Police Department, 1350 Ridgewood Ave., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday
    • Venice Fire Station 3, 5300 E. Laurel Road, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday
    • Venice Area Chamber of Commerce, 597 Tamiami Trail S., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday
    • Venice MainStreet Inc., 101 W. Venice Ave. #23 (upstairs), 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday 

    A reminder that through a partnership with Venice MainStreet, these cloth face coverings are also available during general operating hours, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday (except where noted below) at the following stores and restaurants in downtown Venice while supplies last:

    Miami Avenue:

    • Mother’s Cupboard
    • The Artful Gem
    • Down Island Way Boutique

    Venice Avenue:

    • Café Venice – 11:30 a.m.-close
    • Patchington
    • Venice Wine and Coffee
    • Luxurious Interiors
    • Dana Tyler
    • Lisa’s Classic Rose
    • Ciao Gelato
    • Venice In Vogue

    Tampa Avenue:

    • The Power of One – 11 a.m.-3 p.m. M, T, Th, F, Sat

    Customers are asked to please bring their own mask to wear into downtown shops and restaurants, but if you don’t have one, these will be provided to you free of charge.

    Masks can also be purchased at supermarkets, convenience stores and box stores. Local tailoring/alterations shops are also making and selling them. Check with those nearest you for availability.

    What should I do if I’m aware of residents from New York and Detroit who, due to the situations they are facing up north, have decided they are going to come back to Florida? 

    Gov. DeSantis issued an Executive Order directing persons entering the state of Florida from a “hot spot” state to self-quarantine for 14 days. Persons found in violation of that order face a second-degree misdemeanor. Local police departments, as well as county and state law enforcement personnel, are compelled to assist in the enforcement of this order. Our responsibility in identifying a person in violation of the Executive Order is to inform the Florida Department of Health. If you are aware of a violator and wish to report it you may contact the Sarasota County Sheriff’s dispatch center at 941-316-1201. The dispatcher will assign a responding officer. (The Venice Police Department is dispatched from that center; the City does not have a local dispatch function). If you call, it would be helpful to the dispatcher if you could provide detailed information to help identify the person or persons in violation. 

    Are Sarasota County beaches open? 

    Yes. Parking is available at Sarasota County-operated beaches, including beaches in the City of Venice -- Venice Beach, Brohard Beach (near Sharky's), Chauncy Howard Park, Maxine Barritt Park and Service Club Park -- as of May 4. Chairs, coolers and umbrellas are also allowed, but all beachgoers are asked to maintain social distancing of 6 feet apart and avoid large groups. Restrooms are also open. Concessions resumed at Venice Beach on May 8.

    What about tennis courts and pickleball?

    The County opened outdoor pickleball and tennis courts on May 2, including those at Hecksher Park and Wellfield Park in Venice. The following guidelines and restrictions are in place:

    • One-hour maximum timeframe of use per match.
    • Those waiting for the courts to open must remain 6 feet apart.
    • Maintain social distancing in all areas off the courts and keep groups 6 feet apart.
    All court activity and compliance will be monitored by Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources staff.

    The Venice Community Center will offer 90-minute indoor open play pickleball sessions starting July 13. Players must preregister by visiting or by calling 941-861-1380. Registration begins on July 6. Drop-in play is unavailable at this time. Sessions limited to 24 players, no spectators. For more info, visit

    Are basketball and shuffleboard courts open?

    County-operated outdoor courts including basketball, volleyball and shuffleboard reopened May 30. This includes Hecksher Park in Venice. 

    Is tournament and league play allowed?

    Tournament play resumed June 14, pending submission/approval of reactivation plans. 
    Local league play and ongoing reservations resumed June 1 with submission/approval of a reactivation plan. For more information visit

    Are the Paw Park, South Jetty and Fishing Pier open?

    Yes. In partnership with Sarasota County, the Brohard Paw Park in the City of Venice reopened to dogs and their owners on May 11. This reopening includes the fenced-in play area and the dog beach. A reminder to please pick up after your pet. Waste bags are provided at the Paw Park.

    Humphris Park and the South Jetty point, Jetty Jacks concessions at the South Jetty, and the Venice Fishing Pier also reopened to the public May 11.

    Visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines and posted rules at all these locations. Please maintain a 6-foot distance from others and avoid large groups. These locations will be patrolled by law enforcement.

    Are playgrounds open?

    Yes. All City of Venice playgrounds, as well as the Interactive Children’s Fountain in Centennial Park, reopened to the public June 13.

    The playgrounds are located at Chuck Reiter Park, Hecksher Park, Wellfield Park, East Gate Park, John Nolen Park, Legacy Park, Mundy Park, Prentiss French Park and Venezia Park. The swings at West Blalock Park and the Venice Area Beautification Inc. (VABI) Building will also be accessible.

    All playgrounds and the fountain have been cleaned, sanitized and inspected prior to opening.

    Sarasota County Parks and Recreation opened all County playgrounds on the same date, June 13.

    Are boat ramps open?

    All boat ramps in Sarasota County are currently open, including ramps at Higel Marine Park on Tarpon Center Drive and Marina Park on East Venice Avenue near the Historic Train Depot. Boaters are reminded of the FWC’s Executive Order stating that all recreational boats must be at least 50 feet apart, as per CDC and FDOH social distancing guidelines. 

    What is the status of the Venice Community Center?

    Sarasota County reactivated facility reservations, including at the Venice Community Center, on June 15. If you are interested in resuming use of interior facility space, please contact the recreation or nature center of your choice, email or call 941-861-PARK (7275) to begin the process. You may also enter an online request for most facilities at Once the request is received, you will be contacted for further instructions before your reservation is finalized.

    The VCC will offer 90-minute open play pickleball sessions starting July 13. Players must preregister by visiting or by calling 941-861-1380. Registration begins on July 6. Drop-in play is unavailable at this time. Sessions limited to 24 players, no spectators. For more info, visit

    Is City Hall open for business?

    The City of Venice reopened City Hall and all other City facilities to the public on June 22, with the exception of the Venice Museum and Julia Cousins Laning and Dale Laning Archives & Research Center, which will reopen July 13.

    However, due to limitations set by the Governor, including that gatherings are recommended to be no larger than 50 people unless there is capacity for 6-foot social distancing, Venice City Council and advisory board meetings will still be virtual. These plans may change in future phases.

    Due to the start of the Fire Station 1/City Hall improvement project, visitors to Venice City Hall should be aware they can only enter the building through the main doors facing West Venice Avenue.

    The Cashier's Office south entrance, near the Fire Station, is blocked off due to construction activity. The Cashier's Office payment drop box has been relocated to the west side of the building at the employee entrance.

    Parking is available on the west side of the building and near the front entrance along W. Venice Ave.

    To support a safe environment for visitors and staff, current recommendations for physical distancing, cleaning/sanitation protocols, and capacity reductions will be implemented and adjusted as needed to remain in compliance with current health guidelines.

    Visitors to City Hall and other City facilities are encouraged to wear masks when interacting with staff. Citizens will also notice new plexiglass barriers at public-facing counters at City Hall including the Cashier’s Office for utility bill and other payments, and the Building Department. Freestanding stations offering hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are also available for the public.

    If you need to meet with a City Hall staff member, we ask that you make an appointment in advance by calling 941-486-2626. The staff member will then meet you at a station in the lobby with plexiglass barriers offering protection for both you and City Hall employees.

    City Hall is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

    Online services on this website include the ability for citizens to pay a utility bill or apply for a permitPeople can call the City’s main number at 941-486-2626 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and be directed to the department they need.

    City Hall has gone digital with public hearing notices. Under the “Government” tab on the homepage of this website, select “City Clerk,” then “Public Notices.” When you select this page, you will find current public notices that have been posted. 

    When will City Council meetings resume in Council chambers?

    During the May 26 virtual meeting, City Council voted to postpone in-person meetings at City Hall until after the summer break (resuming 2nd week of August). All City advisory boards are also meeting virtually.

    Can I get a permit for a special event?

    Permits for special events in the City will be considered by staff effective Monday, July 13, depending on the scope of the event. All potential event holders will be required to submit a plan for social distancing and sanitization. Please contact Special Events and Marketing Coordinator Shirley Gibson at or 941-882-7439 for more information.

    When will the Saturday Farmers Market reopen?

    The Saturday Farmers Market at Venice City Hall will reopen on Saturday, July 11. During the construction of Fire Station 1 and expansion of City Hall, the market will relocate out of the parking lot but will still operate at City Hall. The Farmers Market will set up on W. Venice Avenue between Harbor Drive and Avenue des Parques, located between City Hall and the Hecksher Park tennis courts. Summer market hours will be from 8 a.m. to noon. All staff and vendors will wear masks and gloves, and sanitizing stations will be available. Only service animals will be allowed during current COVID-19 rules.

    Are the City's outdoor volunteer programs up and running?

    On July 1, the City of Venice reinstated its Adopt-a-Park Volunteer Program and all other volunteer park programs. Volunteers are asked to continue to social distance and avoid meeting in large groups.

    Why don’t you shut down Venice Airport?

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not permit temporary closure or restriction of federally obligated airports for non-aeronautical purposes.

    Are passenger screenings being conducted at Venice Airport?

    In order to facilitate the collection of Florida Department of Health screening forms being used in association with passengers on aircraft arriving to Florida on flights originating out of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the forms would be presented to said passengers by personnel at the Airport's fixed-base operator, Suncoast Air Center. Once more than 30 survey forms have been collected, arrangements for pickup will be made with the appropriate FDOT point of contact.

    At this time, there are no completed forms at Venice Airport because the last aircraft to arrive here from the Tri-state area came into Venice Airport on March 28, 2020, prior to the requirement for general aviation aircraft passenger screenings. That flight was carrying one passenger who had been self-quarantining in the Northeast for several weeks before the flight

    For questions related to travel, please contact the state’s the COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121 or forward written inquiries to

    Has dining in downtown Venice been expanded?

    On May 22, at the direction of City Council, Venice City Manager Ed Lavallee signed Executive Order 2020-09, stating that restaurants in the downtown business district may apply to the City to temporarily expand their outside dining laterally beyond the length of the public right-of-way or public property immediately adjacent to the subject property with the written consent of the adjacent, affected property owner. Businesses are required to maintain a 6-foot wide pedestrian walkway. 

    The order also waives the requirement to obtain a permit for a temporary sign and the time limitations for temporary signs citywide.

    I am an employer with a small business that had to close, or an employee who has been laid off. Where can I go for assistance?

    The Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County provides a multitude of resources for small businesses, employers and employees on its website, You can also call the EDC at 941-309-1200.

    For those with storefronts who plan to be closed for some time, please go to and sign your place of business up for checks by the Venice Police Department. This is only for businesses within City of Venice limits.

    What about vacation rentals?

    The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Governor's Office approved Sarasota County’s plan to allow short-term/vacation rentals in accordance with an Executive Order of the Governor. The plan includes recommendations that will help to ensure the health and safety of employees and guests and went into effect May 22.

    It includes guidance on reservations, guest safety, pets/assistance animals and recommendations for keeping properties clean and in compliance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

    Other topics address:

    • Personal protective equipment
    • Confirmed COVID-19 case notification
    • Maintaining distance at pools, beaches, entrances and exits.

    Read the complete guidelines here:

    Are libraries open?

    Sarasota County Public Libraries reopened June 15 with modified hours. The new hours reflect all library locations, except Osprey, which will remain closed. Hours are Monday through Thursday 10-6, and Friday and Saturday 10-5. This includes the William H. Jervey Jr. Library in the City of Venice.

    Patrons are encouraged to get their materials and not linger inside if possible. Newspapers and magazines are not available at this time. Computers with Internet access are available, but there are fewer stations, with hour time limits. Curbside service is still available.

    Community members interested in placing holds on books, DVDs, audiobooks or other items can do so through the library’s website at or by calling 941-861-1110.

    Are there any changes to my garbage or recycling collection?

    The City of Venice is working hard to protect our community. Currently, all garbage, recycling and yard waste collection will continue as usual; however, residents should take note of several important precautions that began April 6:

    • All residential garbage and recycling must be placed inside the correct automated cart for collection. For the safety of our staff, nothing placed outside of the cart will be collected at this time.
    • Yard waste will still be collected normally, which includes using the paper yard waste bags, bundles or cans (all must be less than 40 lbs.).
    • If you have additional garbage or items that will not fit in the cart, please save it for your next regularly scheduled pickup day, or contact Public Works to schedule a bulk collection.  Bulk garbage and bulk yard waste will continue to be collected and must be scheduled by contacting the Public Works office at 941-486-2422.
    • Cardboard boxes should be broken down flat and placed into the blue recycling cart for collection. For cardboard that will not fit inside a recycling cart, public dumpsters for cardboard will be placed at the following two locations:

      1. The Venice Community Center, 300 S. Nokomis Ave., within the northern parking area.

      2. The intersection of Pinebrook Rd. and Lucaya Ave., to the east of Pinebrook Rd. near the croquet field entrance.

    • If your collection should get missed for some reason, please contact the Public Works office and staff will schedule a return trip within 24 hours.

    Please contact Public Works at 941-486-2422 for any other solid waste or recycling questions. 

    Can I drop off hazardous waste at a Collection Center?

    The three Chemical Collection Centers in Sarasota County are now accepting hazardous waste from all residential and commercial customers. Appointments are no longer required. This includes facilities at 250 S. Jackson Road, Venice, and 4010 Knights Trail Road, Nokomis.

    Disposal for Sarasota County residents is free, however limits may apply.

    Additional details can be found at 

    Updated 7.10.2020