DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) – The owner of all 3 Main Street Xpress Car Wash locations in Pinellas County spoke out with frustrated words at the county commissioners meeting Tuesday morning on behalf of all car wash companies in the county. “Of the 67 counties in Florida, Pinellas County is the only one that’s closed,” said Car wash owner Neil Valk.
Many customers don’t understand why Pinellas County officials shut down the washes. “You just drive-through and go,” said Chaffee Rodger.
Valk said a car is normally 4 times dirtier than a public restroom. He said during a time like the COVID-19 pandemic, cleaning services are essential. “We offer the necessary products to sanitize and clean your car. That’s why it’s essential. We meet all the guidelines for COVID-19 and keeping the distance. Like we are. We’re all in the safe distance right now,” said Valk.
The county said CDC safe distance guidelines aren’t the reason they had to shut them down. “The governor’s order is a ban on movement. It’s a ban on travel,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. The sheriff said he wants people to understand the government shut down the movement of people to non-essential business and ultimately, he says, car washes are not listed as essential. He went on to say since you can only travel to essential businesses, the county closed the gap and closed all businesses not listed as “essential”.
Sheriff Gualtieri said he can’t speak to what other counties do. “The only thing we can do or that the County Administrator can do is what is within our jurisdiction. Within our county.”
The county administrator said he welcomes more clarification from Governor Ron DeSantis. “I hope this ends absolutely as soon as possible,” said Barry Burton.
During the meeting, some commissioners spoke up and questioned the county administrators’ decision to close down machine car washes. The county administrator said the state order is vague. He said he would gladly welcome more direction from Governor Ron DeSantis.
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