Nikki Fried opening Orlando regional licensing office to public
Two FDACS employees demonstrate a fingerprint scan with the enhanced safety measures that will be implement at state offices. Photo by Jason Delgado.

That means finger-printing and concealed weapons permits once again will be processed at offices.

Central Florida residents will once again have a one-stop shop to apply for weapons permits. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced one of Florida’s largest licensing offices will come online again next week.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on Monday reopens its Orlando regional licensing in a new office. The public will be able to enter the freshly constructed building for the first time at that point.

The news comes on the heels of FDACS reopening its Tallahassee office to the public on June 15 and kicking the doors back open at a North Port office on Sept. 7.

“Following the reopening of our North Port and Tallahassee regional offices with enhanced safety measures, we are continuing with a cautious, science-based reopening plan, which includes evaluating regional and county-level COVID-19 data as we consider additional office openings,” Fried said.

“Meanwhile, the vast majority of our services have remained available throughout this crisis.”

Buildings closed down to the public through the apparent peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida. Nine regional offices paused all activity within the buildings on March 19

But Fried stressed licensing never ground to a halt. Services remained available online and remotely.

“Despite the serious challenges posed by COVID-19, our department has been committed to serving Floridians throughout the pandemic,” she said.

That includes granting concealed weapons permits, FDACS officials stressed, regardless of back and forth with the Attorney General’s office. The agency processed 214,173 such applications between March 1 and now, and issued or renewed 172,629 permits.

As activity returns to regional offices, Fried said extra safety precautions now exist.

All three reopened regional offices installed Plexiglass barriers at fingerprinting stations and implemented exhaustive cleaning procedures.

Customers do need to set appointments for fingerprinting and will be required to wear masks. Licensing employees will wear masks, gloves and face shields when taking prints.

New texting software launched with FDACS that will notify customers digitally once appointments have been set and will also follow-up with reminder texts the day of meetings. Customers using the system may text to check in for appointments.

This should keep crowds in waiting rooms down while streamlining services, officials said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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