Coronavirus response: Hillsborough County curfew now in effect

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group voted Monday to approve a curfew throughout the county in hopes it will help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Commission Chair Les Miller proposed the daily 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew during a group meeting Monday afternoon. The motion eventually passed five to three.

The curfew goes into effect Monday at 9 p.m.

Miller said he proposed the curfew because people are not following the safer-at-home order that’s currently in place in the county.

“From what I’m seeing, people are not paying attention and not observing social distancing,” he said. “They just are not.”

Commissioner Sandra Murman agreed, saying she’s seeing more cars on the road now as people “test the limits” of the order. She says having the curfew work hand-in-hand with the safer-at-home order is a “common-sense approach.”

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister also agreed, saying a curfew sends a louder and more clear message.

“The safer-at-home order, they still feel like they can go out and their movement is not as restricted,” he said.

Since the safer-at-home order went into effect on March 27th, 8 On Your Side has learned that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has received more than 250 complaints about possible violations.

The accusations run the gamut but house parties and large social gatherings are a common complaint.

A spokesperson for Tampa Police says TPD received 74 complaint calls over the weekend (Friday-Sunday). Officers had to break up a group of nearly a hundred people in East Tampa, according to Mayor Jane Castor.

Going to the grocery store, pharmacy, or to/from another essential activity, is still allowed during curfew hours. Otherwise, residents must stay off the streets. Social gatherings are not considered essential.

In a phone call following Monday’s EPG meeting, Les Miller strongly discouraged people from solo activities such as jogging or walking a dog during curfew hours.

Miller encouraged essential employers who would be traveling to and from work during curfew hours to be able to produce an ID badge or proof of employment. However, he added it’s not mandatory to produce paperwork from your employer.

Breaking curfew is a second-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. However, much like the safer-at-home order, the intention is education over enforcement. For that reason, officials say if you’re caught breaking curfew you’ll most likely just be told to go home.

The curfew stands until further notice.

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