Pinellas County residents are being directed to stay at home for one week, starting Thursday morning, under a stay-at-home resolution approved by county commissioners Wednesday.
The measure permits residents to leave their homes only for essential trips, such as going to the grocery store or doctor.
Non-essential businesses remain open, provided they follow Centers for Disease Control social distancing guidelines.
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County administrator Barry Burton says many residents are staying home and abiding by social distancing guidelines, but stronger measures are needed.
“If you do not employ these practices, we have no choice but to take more aggressive actions to keep our residents safe,” Burton said.
People can also exercise outside as long as they stay 6 feet away from others.
The measure goes into effect just before 11:30 Thursday morning and will last at least seven days.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says his deputies will enforce the resolution, but he pointed out it's not a total shutdown of the county.
After the vote, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said, while he would have preferred stronger measures, his city will follow it – for now.
Speaking at a Wednesday press conference, Kriseman said his main concern is that the county order allows nonessential businesses to remain open, provided they follow social distancing guidelines to keep customers and employees six feet apart, as well as limit the number of customers inside a building.
“I would rather this be a countywide approach or a regional approach, if we can be. And so we're going to give it a couple days and see how it works,” he said. “But I have an order that if I need to enter it, we’ll enter it. I hope I don't have to.
“And the difference would be is non-essential businesses would need to be closed. And that's really the big difference,” Kriseman added. “It's that one sentence that really makes the big difference from my perspective.”
The county order also means:
- County public parks will stay open, but all playgrounds within the park will be closed.
- Non-essential businesses are ordered to close storefront operations and customer foot traffic if they can't meet CDC guidelines.
- Essential businesses may continue operations following the appropriate guidelines to the maximum extent possible, including first responders, jails, hospitals, and community based organizations that provide meals and social services.
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