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Pinellas County leaders discuss reopening plans, playgrounds expected to stay closed

Social Distancing Sign from Pinellas County
Posted at 5:47 AM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 18:35:42-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Pinellas County leaders discussed plans Thursday for reopening several county offices. They also explained how municipalities plan to open their facilities in the coming weeks, including Clearwater, Dunedin, Madeira Beach and Treasure Island in May.

According to the reopening timeline outlined by Pinellas County, Belleair, Belleair Bluffs, Gulfport, Indian Rocks Beach, Largo, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and Tarpon Springs are scheduled to reopen in June.

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St. Petersburg is planned for July and Kenneth City for August, according to a presentation made by county leaders Thursday.

County leaders said the majority of county services and operations have continued throughout the crisis. Soon, offices will begin to reopen with social distancing requirements top of mind.

The Mid-Pinellas County tax collector’s office was the first county office to start welcoming back customers inside their building in Largo. The staff are only allowing a limited number of people inside at a time and by appointment only.

Inside, plexiglass shields are the first thing you’ll see. The shields seperate employees behind the counter from residents coming in. Blue arrows on the ground keep people apart as they make their way to service counters.

Keisha Freeman Fulcher works at the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office and says they're being careful to keep everyone safe. “Customers come in one entrance, get their transaction taken care of and then they go out the door at the other entrance so they aren’t crossing paths with one another,” she explained.

Crews, dedicated solely to cleaning, are wiping down high touch surfaces.

Pinellas County plans to start slowly reopening the offices you rely on.

It’s a sigh of relief for Molly Jennings who hopes to change the address on her driver’s license. “It’s something I’ve been trying to take care of and it’s been very frustrating the fact that I couldn’t get anyone on the phone," Jennings said. “I’d like to see all the county offices open because we all need services.”

Beaches were also discussed Thursday. County leaders are expecting the shoreline to be busy both this weekend and Memorial Day weekend. The popular beach capacity dashboard will be back starting this weekend to help you see how packed the sand is before heading out the door. The Pinellas County Sheriff hopes to determine after the holiday weekend if hundreds of deputies are still needed to enforce distancing along the coast.

Yet, as county facilities start to reopen, one thing will remain closed: playgrounds — countywide.

Under Pinellas County's new plan, education centers will reopen subject to volunteer availability. New campground reservations will resume May 20. However, picnic shelters will remain closed.

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Reopening plans also include making sure public county facilities are safe for both visitors and employees.

New safety measures include installing physical distancing guides (signage, floor decals, etc.) and counter shields and will consider elevator occupancy guidelines and providing new signage.

County leaders will also be reinstating enhanced sanitation practices for high-touch areas and be doing a deep cleaning of all county facilities.

Pinellas County Reopening Presentation

Pinellas County Reopening P... by wftsweb on Scribd