"COVID-19 Safer At Home" Order - Frequently Asked Questions

On April 2, 2020, The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners issued an order closing all non-essential businesses through the end of April, and giving County Administrator authority to order businesses that do not follow CDC guidelines for social distancing to close. See the full list of Pinellas County Emergency Executive Orders. The County and state orders go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020. 

View the full Safer at Home Guidance for complete details. Below are answers to some of the most asked questions. 

How long will the Safer at Home order be in effect?

Pinellas County’s Safer at Home order is in effect starting Thursday, March 26 at 12:00 p.m. It will last so long as the County’s declared state of local emergency is in place, unless the Board of County Commissioners determines that a policy change is in the public’s best interest.

Who is impacted by the Safer at Home order?

The Safer at Home order contains safety directives for residents, businesses and places of public assembly. Residents are ordered to abide by the CDC guidelines for social distancing and stay home except for essential activities as outlined below. Non-essential businesses may remain open so long as they are able to meet CDC guidelines for social distancing. Otherwise, they must close storefront operations and customer foot traffic. Essential businesses are also expected to comply with CDC guidelines to the fullest extent possible.

Why is the order necessary? 

Pinellas County issued the order to preserve the health, safety and welfare of our residents and to preserve the ability of our healthcare system to serve all in need. Our Emergency Management and public health officials believe that the situation will quickly worsen without this intervention. We have observed similar orders having a positive impact on public health in communities around the world.

Is the Safer at Home Order enforceable by law? 

Local law enforcement and regulatory officials are authorized to enforce this order, but our hope is that residents and businesses do they right thing to protect themselves and the public good. Stay at home as much as possible to protect your family, friends, neighbors and vulnerable populations. Businesses that do not comply with the order may be subject to the appropriate enforcement action up to and including orders to close and criminal charges.

For individuals, what are the permissible exceptions for leaving home? Updated as of April 3, 2020

Under the Governor's Executive Order #20-91, all persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personali interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.

NOTE: Senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying condition (such as chronic lung disease, moderate-to-sever asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure, and liver disease) shall stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19. "Senior Citizen" is not defined in the Governor's Executive Order. 

What constitutes an essential activity? - Updated as of April 3, 2020

Under the Governor's Executive Order and the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners' Order, essential activities include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues, or houses of worship
  • Caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or a friend
  • Participating in recreational activities (consistent with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, golfing (golf courses may remain open) hunting, or swimming
  • Recreational boating (boat ramps, marinas, and bait/tackle shops may remain open)
  • Taking care of pets

What constitues an essential service? - Updated as of April 8, 2020

Under the Governor's Executive Order and the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners' Order, essential services include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • AA/NA and other meetings (requires social distancing)
  • Animal shelters/adoption at shelters
  • Automobile dealerships, repairs and maintenance, auto parts stores
  • Banks and financial institutions 
  • Bicycle sales, repairs and maintenance
  • Community based organizations providing meals and social services 
  • Critical trades: (Plumbers, Electricians, Exterminators, Security personnel, etc.) Fire and water damage restoration, appliance repair personnel, exterminators, and other service providers (such as landscape and pool maintenance service providers) who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other structures
  • First Responders, Police and Fire, Jails and Prisons 
  • Firearm sales and range
  • Food & Beverage (grocery stores, food banks, alcohol sales, restaurants: delivery, take-out, or curbside delivery)
  • Flight schools (only if located on airport property)
  • Funeral Services 
  • Garbage and Sanitation workers 
  • Gas Stations 
  • Government operations
  • Hardware, garden and supply stores
  • Hospitals, clinics and other healthcare operations
  • Hotel and lodging 
  • Human Service operations 
  • Insurance. Tax preparation services, realtors, Title companies
  • Laundromats  
  • Law firms (only for meeting court-ordered deadlines)
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Moving companies
  • Post offices and shipping service, process servers
  • Stores: batteries, cell phone, electronic, light bulbs and office supplies
  • Telemarketing (requires social distancing)
  • Transportation: including airports, ridesharing, taxis and public transportation such as PSTA 
  • Utilities, Public Works and essential infrastructure
  • Veterinarians
  • Warehouses: food distribution, food manufacture and product distribution

For a full list, please see Resolution 20-20. This is available online at www.pinellascounty.org/COVID19

What are the restrictions on non-essential businesses? - Updated as of April 8, 2020

Under the Governor's Executive Order and the Pinellas County Board of Count Commissioners' Order, all non-essential businesses shall close. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Acupuncture (unless service is under the care of a medical provider)
  • Antique stores
  • Auction houses
  • Automotive tint, wash, detail, and accessory businesses
  • Beauty supply and skincare stores
  • Boat dealerships, rentals and charters; kayak sales and rentals
  • Bookstores
  • Clothing and store retail, rental, or consignment
  • Craft, art, and hobby supply stores
  • Day/Beauty spas, hair or nail salons, and barber shops
  • Decor and Lighting sales businesses
  • Entertainment establishments
  • Florist businesses
  • Fitness, Dance, Pilates, and Yoga studios and gyms
  • Jewelry stores and jewelry repair businesses
  • Massage (unless service is under the care of a medical provider)
  • Music and instrument stores; music lesson providers
  • Museums
  • Optical retail stores (non-prescription)
  • Painting, craft, or art studios
  • Pet grooming businesses (including mobile and those co-located with pet retail stores)
  • Pet sales and adoptions (excluding on premises animal care)
  • Smoke, tobacco, CBD, or vape stores
  • Spa sales businesses
  • Sporting goods sales and repair businesses
  • Tailors and alterations
  • Stereo installation and sales businesses
  • Tattoo and piercing services
  • Toy retail stores, game, or amusement rental businesses
  • Vitamin stores (unless service is under the care of a medical provider)
  • Yard, garage and estate sales

How are places of public and private assembly impacted? - Updated as of March 26, 2020

Places of public and private assembly are required to close, whether indoors or outdoors. This includes locations with amusement rides, water parks, pools (except for those in single-family homes), zoos, museums, movie and other theaters, public playgrounds, bowling alleys, pool halls, concert and music halls, country clubs, social clubs and fraternal organizations.

Places of worship are not specifically referenced; however, they are directed to follow CDC social distancing guidelines. Groups must contain 10 or fewer people and stay six feet apart.

Are childcare facilities remaining open? Updated as of March 26, 2020

Childcare facilities providing services to citizens employed by essential businesses are permitted, but must care for children in groups of ten or fewer. Children and childcare providers shall not change from one group to another; if more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. All play equipment used by one group of children must be cleaned and sanitized before use by another group of children. Any child or employee exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 illness cannot stay in the childcare facility.

Are golf courses required to close? Updated as of March 26, 2020

No. Golf courses may remain open as long as they are able to comply with the CDC social guidelines. 

Since playgrounds are closing, are parks and boat ramps also closing? - Updated as of April 3, 2020

Pinellas County Parks and Preserves will remain open (except for Sand Key Park, Fort De Soto Park, the education centers at Weedon Island Preserve and Brooker Creek Preserve, and parks and facilities previously closed). County-managed boat ramps remain open, including the ramp at Fort De Soto Park. CDC social distancing guidelines are required and will be enforced. Enforcement agencies will enforce social distancing on sandbars and spoil islands.

What about routine, elective or non-urgent medical appointments?

Non-essential medical care like eye exams, teeth cleaning, and elective procedures and treatments should be cancelled or rescheduled. When possible, health care visits should be done remotely.

Can I visit family and friends? 

For the safety of you and those in your community, you should remain at home as much as possible to help fight the spread of COVID-19. Visits with family members or friends should be limited to medical need or other essential assistance, such as ensuring an adequate supply of food or medication.

What can I do to prevent the spread of COVID 19 at home?

The Centers for Disease Control reminds everyone in your household of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:

  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household cleaner.

How can I care for a family member with the COVID-19 disease at home?

The CDC recommends you avoid sharing personal items like utensils, cups, food and drinks. Provide your sick household member with clean disposable facemasks to wear at home, if available, to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others. Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person.

For more information, please visit Pinellas County’s COVID-19 resource web page at: www.pinellascounty.org/COVID19.

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