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Hillsborough County's 'safer-at-home' order goes into effect

Posted: 3:48 PM, Mar 25, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-27 22:04:11-04
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TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County's safer-at-home is officially in effect.

Originally, the Emergency Policy Group had agreed on a safe-at-home directive and a curfew as means of preventing the spread of coronvirus, but language regarding the curfew was taken out, and ultimately a 24/7 safer-at-home order was decided upon.

“We made a major accomplishment for the people of this county,” said County Commissioner Les Miller.

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: CASES, LOCATIONS & LIVE UPDATES

You can continue to:

  • Go to the grocery, convenience or warehouse store
  • Go to the pharmacy or other medical establishments to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities
  • Go to medical appointments (but first, check with your doctor or medical provider)
  • Go to a restaurant for take-out or drive-thru
  • Care for or support a friend or family member
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog and be in nature for exercise — just keep at least six (6) feet between you and others in the community
  • Walk your pets and, if necessary, take them to the veterinarian
  • Help someone to get necessary supplies

You should not:

  • Go to work unless you are performing an Essential Service as defined below.
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
  • Maintain no less than six (6) feet of distance from others when you go out
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility

"This passes very very rapidly and often times very silently. so the safer at home in essence says that we would like you to stay at home if at all possible. If you have to go out to the grocery store, pharmacy, to exercise those things are available but think about the possibility of having things delivered to your home," said Mayor Jane Castor.

The county is basing essential services off guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security. Hillsborough County has announced that public parks will be shut down during the county-wide ordinance.

You can read the full list of exemptions and what's considered essential in the official order here.

"There’s a very very long list if you look at the homeland security guidance. So those companies are important to our economy and they will be held responsible. The managers and CEO's of those essential companies will be held responsible to be sure that first of all, anybody who works for them that can telecommute must telecommute. If that’s not possible those that have to work on site must have the protections that they need to stay safe. That will be enforced with fines and penalties. We take this very seriously," said Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill.
Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill.

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF CORONAVIRUS

Under the order, non-essential businesses that can't telecommute or can't maintain six feet of social distance need to close. That includes places like barbershops.

"Very understanding to it but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t disappointed because of how it’s affecting not only our business, but also this industry as well. But I totally understand it for the safety of everybody," said Gino Maggio, the owner of The Barbershop Tampa.

Maggio said they've taken extra pre-cautions to keep the shop clean, but because they can't maintain six feet, they will follow the order and close.

"We’re all in this together so all we can do is just hope and pray this ends soon. We’re hoping to be closed up for two weeks but it could be even longer than that," he said.

"Many jurisdictions have passed [stay-at-home orders] here in the state of Florida. I have personally been on the phone with the mayor of Orlando, mayor of St. Petersburg looking at the jurisdictions along the I-4 corridor," said Mayor Castor.

Earlier in the week, Mayor Jane Castor had planned to enact a stay-at-home order for Tampa after the Emergency Policy Group did not enact one Monday.

Following the announcement of her plan for a safer-at-home policy, the Hillsborough County administrator, who is authorized to carry out the directives from the EPG during a state of emergency, issued a new administrative order confirming no stay-at-home order has been directed.

"We had our differences and we had our armor on but it was time to lay armor aside and extend an olive branch that we could keep everyone every person in this county whether they live in Tampa or Plant City or Temple Terrace or unincorporated Hillsborough County everyone safe. This is a deadly virus that is going on and the first thing we wanted to do is make sure we protect everyone in this county and that was our main objective," said Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Les Miller.

Other cities and countries have passed their own measures to keep people home.

"The good news is that there is evidence it’s working. We’re seeing in places like New York where we’ve had very restrictive policies the rate of increase is starting to go down. We still have more disease but it’s not going up as fast and that’s I think an indication that these things work," said Marissa Levine, a professor of public health and family medicine at USF.

Levine said the order makes the case everyone needs to work together.

"I would say that we’re at a point because we know there’s community transmission that the earlier we act in a concerted manner in a collaborative way the more likely that we will limit the impact of this disease locally and that’s really good for the hospital and healthcare system who they have a lot of resource but it’s always going to be limited," said Levine.

Castor said law enforcement will spend time educating and encouraging people to comply.

"There is an enforcement aspect of this because it is an order rather than a directive but people shouldn’t be wasting their time asking questions about that because they should just do all that they can to copy with this safer at home order so they don’t have to worry about it," she said.