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Florida coronavirus: What statewide stay-at-home order means


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Going ahead with a statewide “stay at home” order meant for some backpedaling from Governor Ron DeSantis.

Wednesday, he issued a 30 day order that limits any “non-essential” movement throughout the state with a few exceptions that include going to church, going outside for recreational activities, and taking care of loved ones and pets.

It will go into effect first thing Friday.

8 On Your Side went to Tampa attorney David Singer to find out if the governor’s change of heart for statewide action will change any previous orders in place already such as Hillsborough County’s “safer at home” act that went into effect last week.

He says not really, because while some of the language in the orders differs, the intent is the same: to keep people home and prevent the spread of the virus.

“From a day to day perspective for Hillsborough County residents, I think it’s business as coronavirus usual,” Singer explained. “I think the message is that the governor understands this pandemic is serious.”

The governor’s order only trumps local orders if they are less restrictive, allowing for activity otherwise outlawed by the state.

So, that means despite the state deeming church an essential activity, it’s still not allowed in Hillsborough because the local order already bans gatherings of more than ten people. Because the Hillsborough order is already more restrictive, it stands.

Mayor Jane Castor addressed those concerns during a Facebook live stream Wednesday.

“What occurred at The River church on Sunday was not allowed then, is not allowed today, and will not be allowed Sunday either,” she said, in reference to a Tampa pastor who was arrested after hosting a large scale service in violation of coronavirus restrictions.

Hillsborough County’s emergency policy group is set to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss the statewide development and any conflict with its local order.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told 8 On Your Side:

“The Governor’s guidance and order is very comprehensive. We are examining it now. The goal here is to save lives, and that is what all of Florida’s public officials are trying to do.”

A spokesperson for Pinellas County government, which also has a “safer at home” order already in effect, said county attorneys are reviewing the statewide order and hope to have more clarity Thursday.

What does it mean?

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants Floridians to limit their movement outside of their homes to only those necessary to either obtain or provide essential services or activities.

What’s an essential service?

DeSantis said the state will be abiding by what the U.S. Department of Homeland Security outlines as essential services.

Related: Coronavirus in Florida: Are you an essential employee?

Dept. of Homeland Security

If you have questions about this list, please contact CISA at

When does it go into effect?

The order goes into effect Thursday night at midnight. Think Thursday night at 11:59 p.m. if that’s easier to understand.

How long will it last?

DeSantis says the stay at home order will last 30 days, meaning the order would start April 3 and end May 3. DeSantis said he consulted with the White House and spoke with President Donald Trump about the decision. He noted that the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s extended guidelines from Tuesday night played a role in the decision, calling the president’s move a “national pause.”


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