COVID-19 Industry Update 

April 22, 2020

The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday extended its Local State of Emergency declaration through May 1. Public beaches, pools and playgrounds remain closed.

The extension renewed all County orders pursuant to the Local State of Emergency except for Resolution 20-23, which implemented Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Safer at Home order requiring individuals to stay home except for essential activities. The state order is set to expire on April 30. If the state order expires as scheduled on April 30, the County can revert to its own Safer at Home order issued on March 25, amend it or issue a new order.

The Commission is carefully weighing the pandemic’s public health concerns with its impact on livelihoods, businesses and recreation. County Administrator Barry A. Burton, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Florida Department of Health in Pinellas officials will review all available COVID-19 data, and Burton will receive input from the County municipalities, in anticipation for next week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting, which is at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Burton will also discuss the latest on the anticipated CARES Act funding, which the county is awaiting federal guidance on what the allowable uses will be for the anticipated funds.

Also, Pinellas Park has established the Small Business Relief Fund to assist small businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

State's Reopen Plan

DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force started meetings this week to develop recommendations for reopening Florida’s economy. The task force includes a number of working groups, including one that encompasses accommodation, food, tourism, construction, real estate, recreation, retail and transportation, and it's being led by Visit Florida’s Dana Young.

Times, dates, agendas and call-in information for meetings are published here. You can also watch live streams and replays of previous meetings here.

Visit Florida has recently rolled out information regarding its four-phase marketing plan, which includes targeting Floridians to take in-state vacations this summer, then as travel becomes safer, focusing on domestic/international travel and, lastly, continuing aggressive marketing for the next 2-3 years to remain a top global destination.

Federal Funding Latest

With both the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Impact Disaster Loans (EIDL) program out of funds, congressional leaders and the administration announced a deal today to replenish the programs and provide additional funding for hospitals and coronavirus testing.

The U.S. Senate passed the measure late Tuesday afternoon, and the House is expected to take it up on Thursday. The $481 billion agreement provides an additional $321 billion for the PPP, $60 billion for the EIDL program, $75 billion for healthcare providers and $25 billion to expand testing capacity (including $11 billion for States to increase testing).

This bill is intended to be narrow and specifically address PPP and EIDL funding shortfalls. To our disappointment, Congress did not make substantive changes to increase PPP loan amounts, provide more flexible loan forgiveness or expand PPP eligibility to organizations not already included in the CARES Act, including 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6) nonprofits. Congressional negotiators continue to maintain that these changes will be considered in the next bill, and we will continue to push hard for this provision.

Here's a detailed summary of the bill from U.S. Travel.

Elite Event Application Closes April 30

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater’s FY20-21 Elite Event Application will close on April 30. The complete program overview can be found here, including the guidelines and application.

St. Pete Pride Postponed

The destination’s largest summer event announced on Monday that it would be postponed until the fall. St. Pete Pride was scheduled to take place June 26-28.

Visit Florida Learning Library Now Free

Normally open to just members, Visit Florida has unlocked its Learning Library, which includes webinars and presentations on topics ranging from marketing to research and sales.

PSTA Rolling Out Essential Workers Program

Coming soon from PSTA is a new program to help essential employees get to and from work during this period when bus service is reduced. The Essential Workers Program will work with employers and workers to get them to and from work on either Uber, United Taxi or CareRise during hours and shifts when PSTA buses are not running. Complete details will be shared on PSTA’s website.

Some Gulf Coast Beaches Reopening

On Wednesday, Sarasota County officials voted to reopen its beaches with restrictions starting at 6 a.m. Monday. The beaches are open for “essential activities” only with no laying or sunbathing and parking lots won’t be open.

Charlotte County is also reopening its sports fields (organized activites not allowed) and dog parks starting Friday with Englewood Beach and Port Charlotte Beach reopening Monday in conjunction with Sarasota County. Beach restrooms and parking will remain closed.

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