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'It's not like the virus is Count Dracula' | Attorney plans to sue Hillsborough Co. over curfew order

Hillsborough curfew to be challenged legally
Posted at 10:57 PM, Apr 14, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa attorney Patrick Leduc said the Executive Order issued by Hillsborough County is “unenforceable” and is doing more harm than good.

“People should not just sit idly by and say, ‘Oh this is OK. It’s not OK,” Leduc said. “Our elected officials are not showing good judgment. This ordinance does not pass constitutional muster, and it must die the death it deserves.”

The curfew, which goes from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., was announced during Monday afternoon's emergency policy group meeting following a 5-3 vote.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Hillsborough County residents under curfew order

"The only way we’re going to stop this right now is to have the curfew, and the curfew has to go in place. We tried the safer-at-home, in many instances, not working. Yes, there are those abiding what the safer-at-home says we appreciate that we really really do for those that are doing the right thing we appreciate it," said Hillsborough County BOCC chairman Les Miller. "But there are a lot of people out there that are not. And those ones that are not could put those that are in jeopardy."

Leduc said the stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis already made it a crime to violate the CDC and Department of Homeland Security guidelines for social distancing and gathering in large groups.

“You’ve already got a safer-at-home order that does all that, and now you pass a curfew that basically says do the safer-at-home order, so there’s an absurdity,” Leduc said. “It’s not like the virus is Count Dracula. The virus isn’t just going to come out at night; the virus is 24/7.”

Last month, Hillsborough County implemented a stay-at-home order. Since it went into effect, Sheriff Chad Chronister told ABC Action New they’ve received at least 350 complaints, including 14 on Easter, of people gathering in large groups and individual businesses. Even a restaurant open with people sitting outside. Most of the violations taking place later in the evening, according to Chronister.

"We all have to do our part,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said during a Tuesday afternoon FaceBook live news conference. “Don’t get excited about the curfew. All we are saying is if you can stay-at-home, stay-at-home, that’s it. Officers aren’t going to be out stopping individuals unless you are gathering in large groups, and they are going to break those up. That’s it. Officers aren’t going to stop you; you are not going to have any kind of paperwork.”

Leduc said the curfew only adds more fear to people already struggling financially during this pandemic.

“It’s a hot mess,” Leduc said. "We are crushing everybody. The people who are most hurt like this are living paycheck to paycheck. And, we just did more to crush people yesterday with this curfew, and they need to knock it off.”

Leduc plans to file the suit against the county sometime this week.