The difference between 'Safer at Home' and 'Stay at Home' orders

Posted at 12:33 PM, Apr 02, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida, like many other states, is doing everything it can to fight the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, including placing an order on all it's residents to stay home.

On Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis directed Floridians to "limit movements and personal interactions outside the home" to essential services or activities.

The mandatory safer-at-home order, which is set to end April 30, has confused many across the state due to its official title: 'Safer At Home.'

So what exactly is the difference between a 'safer-at-home' order and 'stay-at-home' order? We're breaking it down for you below:

Safer At Home

A safer-at-home order urges residents to stay in their homes and only go outside for essential services or activities.

Those essential services or activities may include: going to buy groceries, picking up medications or participating in recreational activities such as walking or biking.

A safer-at home order also allows for non-essential businesses to remain open as long as they can either "limit capacity or self-impose physical distancing in their store," according to the National League of Cities.

In Florida, DeSantis said the state would follow the guidelines outlined by the Department of Homeland Security when it comes to which businesses, and workers, are considered essential and non-essential.

Stay At Home

A stay-at-home order, while similar to a safer-at-home- order, can include more "aggressive measures."

For instance, non-essential businesses are forced to close despite having the ability to prevent person-to-person spread, as set by the Centers for Disease Control and and Prevention’s guidelines.

Another measure that can be taken in a stay-at-home order is that residents can get into legal trouble if they violate any of the restrictions.

"In some areas, local police forces have opted for an approach that prioritizes educating the public instead of criminalization or financial penalties," the National League of Cities says on its website. "While some authorities have made the decision to prioritize education over enforcement, other jurisdictions are considering stricter enforcement as COVID-19 continues to spread in their communities. From higher fines to misdemeanors, some cities are looking to establish stiffer consequences for citizens who do not comply with movement restricting orders."

Florida's safer-at-home order does not state whether officers and deputies have to take a certain approach. At this time, most counties in the state have leaned towards educating the public.


Main Take away

The most important thing to remember during the coronavirus pandemic is to follow whichever restrictions your state has ordered to protect you and your family.

According to the CDC, in Florida this includes:

  • Monitor local information about COVID-19 in your community.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if you become symptomatic.
  • Practice personal protective measures (e.g. hand washing).
  • Create a household plan of action.
  • Ensure 30-day supply of all medicines.
  • Know about emergency operations plans for schools/workplaces of household members.
  • Individuals at risk of severe illness (including older adults and persons of any age with underlying health conditions) should stay at home as much as possible.
    • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel
    • Avoid gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including church attendance and social events with 10 or more people as much as possible.

Also, don't forget that this is what you can and cannot do in Florida from now until April 30:


  • Go to the grocery store
  • Go to the pharmacy
  • Go to the doctor (call them before going for instructions)
  • Pick up food from a restaurant
  • Take your pet to the veterinarian
  • Enjoy outdoor activities, such as going for a walk, or jog, as long as you do not gather in a group of more than 10 and stay at least six feet away from each other


  • Go to work at any place that is NOT an essential service as defined in the order
  • Visit friends or family socially
  • Visit someone in a hospital, nursing home, or ALF, except for a few limited exceptions. Please contact the specific facility for further information.
  • Gather in groups of more than 10, or be closer than six feet to people.

As we all navigate the "new normal" under the coronavirus pandemic, remember that we are in this together!