Coronavirus: ‘Safer at home’ order begins in Pinellas County

Coronavirus

ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – New restrictions are coming for two bay area counties as the fight against the Coronavirus picks up.

In Pinellas County, a “safer at home” order begins Thursday at noon. The resolution passed during a Pinellas County Emergency Meeting on Wednesday. Hillsborough County leaders are expected to pass a safer at home and curfew order when they vote on it Thursday. Once it’s passed, it would go into effect Friday night starting at 10:00 pm.

In Pinellas County, the resolution came after some strong words from citizens and business owners who showed up to make sure commissioners heard their voices.

“You [as the commisioners] try not taking a salary, see how it feels,” said one citizen. Pinellas Co. Commissioner Pat Gerard responded “I’m married to a small business owner who lost his business in the last downturn. We know, but we’re trying to save your lives, too.”

In the end, the resolution passed does not require businesses to shut down. As long as they’re following CDC social distancing guidelines they can stay open. But that’s a loophole some fear businesses will exploit. As health care experts worry the worst is yet to come.

This resolution exempts three dozen categories of businesses including health care, safety and sanitation and of course tv news. Below is a partial list of essential businesses from Pinellas County government officials, for the full list click here.

Some businesses downtown St.Pete have already shut down temporarily, however, others are staying open. The owner of a local chocolate shop believes her business is essential to the livelihood of her employees.

“I’ve got a couple of employees that if they didn’t get a paycheck that they would not be having any electric or water or a roof over their head,” said Jane Rakestraw.

Non-essential business owners who don’t comply with the closure or staying in CDC standards could be hit with a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

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