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Manatee County leaders looking into options to keep businesses open in case of another lockdown

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Posted at 7:22 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 19:22:18-05

BRADENTON, Fla. — Manatee County leaders are trying to figure out what they can do to keep local businesses open if there’s a federally mandated lockdown imposed by President-elect Biden's administration.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise across the nation, Manatee County commissioners say they do not want the federal or state governments shutting down local businesses.

"Essentially, we all went through the government lockdowns imposed by the state and there were a lot of negative ramifications as a result of those lockdowns," said Kevin Van Ostenbridge, Manatee County commissioner.

On Thursday, commissioners met during a special meeting and voted to have the county attorney research the BOCC's rights in the event of a federal lockdown.

"The reality of this is we’re speculating and identifying a 'what if' approach," said Reggie Bellamy, Manatee County commissioner.

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor of law at Stetson University College of Law, says a federal lockdown would likely not close local businesses.

"The supreme court, especially this supreme court, has been very clear that they believe in federalism, which is another term for states' rights. That means the federal government cannot commandeer local officials to enforce federal law," said Torres-Spelliscy.

But a decision at the state level could.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently said he would not shut down the state again. But the BOCC also agreed to draft a letter to the governor in favor of not shutting down the state.

As of now, President-elect Joe Biden has not said he would implement a federal lockdown.