As coronavirus cases continue to swell in Florida, closures, cancellations, and curfews are increasing.
Despite calls from various politicians and health officials, Gov. Ron DeSantis has not issued a statewide stay-at-home order, prompting Pinellas and Hillsborough counties -- among others -- to enact their own policies to ensure public safety.
CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida
Pinellas County has enacted a stay-at-home order, which means many businesses and public facilities will close for at least one week. County commissioners passed the resolution unanimously on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Hillsborough County on Thursday approved a similar resolution that will go into effect on Friday. 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.
This is after Tampa Mayor Jane Castor had announced her intention to establish a stay-at-home policy for the city.
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 are responding as of Thursday:
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. 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: No stay-at-home orders or curfews have been ordered. 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: No stay-at-home orders or curfews have been ordered. All beaches and parks are closed. Additionally, county-owned boat ramps temporarily closed starting March 26. County libraries are closed to walk-ins, but staff is still on-site. Beginning on March 18, 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: No stay-at-home orders or curfews have been ordered. 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: No stay-at-home orders or curfews have been ordered. 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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