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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

How Tampa Bay Counties Are Handling Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Orders, Curfews And Closures

sign on a business door
CARL LISCIANDRELLO/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA
These signs, being hung outside Pinellas County businesses, warn of adhering to the rules regarding the county's stay-at-home order.

NOTE: This was post was updated to reflect a statewide stay-at-home order annouced by Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 1.

As coronavirus cases continue to swell in Florida, closures, cancellations, and curfews are increasing.

After calls from various politicians and health officials, Gov. Ron DeSantis finally issued a 30-day statewide stay-at-home order. He announced the executive order Wednesday during a press conference and said the decision came after a conversation with President Donald Trump.

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The order will go into effect Friday, April 3, at 12:01 a.m.

It will follow policies previously issues by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Miami-Dade County. Also, it will restrict the activity of nonessential businesses and activities.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor called the order "better late than never in an interview on NPR's "Morning Edition."

Previously, Pinellas County commissioners unanimously enacted a stay-at-home order, which means many businesses and public facilities will close for at least one week. 

Meanwhile, Hillsborough County approved a similar resolution. It allows businesses to operate on weekends and weeknights, but only if they meet the 6-foot distance rule between customers and each other.

UPDATE: Hillsborough County closed all parks and preserves effective March 28.

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This is after Tampa Mayor Jane Castor had announced her intention to establish a stay-at-home policy for the city.

On April 2, the Clearwater officials announced they would reinstate its yardwaste and bulk item pickup for one week -- between April 6 and 10. The decision came after a large amount of items have been placed at the curb for pickup throughout the city after a state of emergency declaration suspended all non-essential services.

Following April 10, these services will be suspended again. Solid waste crews will continue to provide residential and commercial solid waste collection, as well as residential and multi-family blue-barrel collection, according to the Clearwater officials.

DeSantis has issued executive orders closing all public schools until April 15. He’s also issued an order that all bars, pubs and nightclubs in the state remain closed for 30 days, which started March 17.

Here is how counties across the Tampa Bay area had responded:

Pasco County: No stay-at-home orders or curfews have been ordered. All beaches, parks and libraries are closed. The county recommended exploring the public library’s website to access ebooks, stream videos and find other content while people isolate. Bus fares countywide have been waived to assist “customers who might be experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 related closures.” For more information, visit the Pasco County website.

“Pasco doesn’t have the high-density areas or multigenerational housing concerns that are driving stay-at-home orders in other communities,” Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles said in a video posted on YouTube Thursday. “Our goal is to continue to safely provide essential services and to keep our economy moving.”

Hernando County: No stay-at-home orders or curfews have been ordered. Parks and libraries are closed until at least April 30. Additionally, residents are no longer allowed to pick up or drop off items at the branches. All fines have been suspended until May 1. Despite parks being closed, boat ramps and marinas remain open for public use as long as social distancing guidelines are being followed. On March 23, the county decided to waive all bus fares for the next 30 days. Animal services shelters are open by appointment only. For a list of event cancellations, visit its tourism website

Polk County: Lakeland's city commissioners reversed a decision and closed all city parks and walking trails. DeSantis's statewide stay-at-home order. In the county, parks and natural resource facilities are closed and libraries offer only curbside service. Polk County Utilities will not interrupt service or charge late fees for the next 60 days. County facilities are closed to public walk-ins. For a full list, visit the county’s website.

Manatee County: All beaches and parks are closed. Additionally, county-owned boat ramps temporarily closed. County libraries are closed to walk-ins, but staff is still on-site. Manatee County Government public buildings closed to the public for walk-in services for 15 days. The county waived bus fares. For local updates, text ManateeReady (one word) to 888-777 or visit its website.

Sarasota County: Beaches and parks – including playgrounds, dog parks and courts – are closed. Libraries are closed and deadlines for returns extended to April 13. Since schools are closed, the district will offer meal support children Monday through Friday until schools reopen. Bus fare is suspended and routes were modified. Text SRQCOVID19 to 888-777 for local updates or visit the county website.

  • City of Sarasota: The local public health emergency has been extended to April 3. The city also issued a pair of additional emergency directives: Residents are encouraged to remain at home through April 3, with exception of essential activities and outdoor exercise that follows social distance guidelines. Groups of 10 or more are also prohibited inside city limits. Parks facilities and amenities, including playgrounds, basketball courts and tennis courts are closed. City buildings are closed to the public. Boat ramps, fishing piers and outdoor spaces remain open.

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