ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began Florida prisons will allow the loved ones of state inmates to resume visitations, according to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC).
The FDC made the announcement on Twitter Friday alerting immediate family members of the chance to reconnect, with restrictions.
Starting Monday, Sept. 28 at 5 a.m. ET, families can head online an request a visitation time slot. At this time it is unclear how many spots will be available for registration. Your dedicated visitation date depends on the ID number for the inmate you are looking to see.
But visits will look different than they did ahead of the pandemic.
Only two immediate family members, 12-year-old and up, will be allowed to attend visitation per week. If an inmate does not have any immediate family they can submit for Warden approval of another guest, according to FDC rules.
There will also be no-contact allowed and social distancing systems in place for upcoming visits. All must remain six-feet apart during visits, all must wear FDC-issued masks at all times, there must be no contact between visitors and inmates and a clear plastic divider will be set up at tables.
“These new temporary health and safety guidelines are in order to prevent and mitigate further spread of COVID-19 and to keep visitors and inmates safe,” the FDC wrote on its website.
Prior to entering security, all visitors must use a hand washing or sanitizing station. You are not allowed to bring your own sanitizer, according to a release.
The FDC said visitors will also be subject to a COVID-19 screening and temperature check.
Entry into a facility is restricted for those who meet any of the following criteria:
- Individuals who have signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever (over 99.65 degrees or higher)
- Muscle or body aches
- Pressure in the chest
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or is currently under Department of Health investigation for COVID-19
Anyone that fails a screening will not be allowed to attend their visitation, nor will the rest of their party, according to the FDC. They also stressed that anyone who violates any new safety measure will have their visit immediately terminated.
According to the FDC's coronavirus dashboard, 16,237 inmates and 3,106 staff have tested positive for COVID-19, across its 62 state facilities, since the pandemic began. Data is as of Sept. 25 at 12 p.m.
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