NewsHillsborough County


Small businesses, families adjust to new normal under 'safer-at-home' order

Posted at 7:25 PM, Mar 28, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay area families and small businesses are adjusting to a new normal as the new "safer-at-home" order is now in effect in Hillsborough County.

The order is meant to discourage movement and the spread of coronavirus. However, the order is not a lockdown, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.

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Hillsborough County residents can still go out for essential needs, including the grocery store, pharmacy and a visit to the doctor's office. You can also leave your home to exercise outside while maintaining at least six feet of social distance.

That's been welcome news to Michael Pierce-Fabianski and his husband, Mike Fabianski, along with their two young children.

"We'll go for bike rides at least twice a day, we'll go out and play in the front yard," Fabianski said.

They ventured out to let the kids play on an interactive community art project, a Candyland game made entirely out of chalk. It was created by the children's nonprofit Tribe Seminole Heights. Only one family is allowed on the board at a time to encourage people to follow the rules about staying at least six feet apart.

The family feels it's a good way to get the kids out while also practicing social distancing.

"We certainly think it’s important to protect our children and our family and everyone else in our neighborhood. So we’re following the rules," said Pierce-Fabianski.


People can also go out to care for others and gather necessary supplies or pick up restaurant takeout.

Non-essential businesses that are unable to maintain the required physical distancing of six feet to keep employees and customers safe, must close.

This has been a hard time for many small businesses, with many owners forced to get creative on how to stay open while also being safe and following the new rules.

Health Mutt, located on Central Avenue in Seminole Heights, is now doing curbside service and pickup. No customers have been allowed inside the store to encourage social distancing. They are considered an essential business.

Valhalla Resale, a clothing and consignment store, has now starting delivering clothing items to members as a part of their clothing rental service so they don't have to come inside the store.

"Right now, we're asking customers to stay away unless they really have to get inside the store," said Danielle Ferrari, the owner of Valhalla Resale. "Members, we're letting them come in but mostly one at a time and then we are doing deliveries for anyone who doesn't feel safe coming in."

This has been tough for Ferrari who is wondering about the future of her business because of the spread of COVID-19. She has also had to postpone the hiring of a new employee.

"As long as our members continue to pay their membership fees, we'll be able to probably go about a month," she said. "After that, you know, it's been kind of up in the air."

Businesses who have questions about how the order impacts them can call the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center at (813) 204-9267