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Pinellas deputies shutting down non-essential businesses amid stay-at-home order


PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Non-essential businesses as defined by Governor Ron Desantis, should put the closed sign up before a deputy knocks on the door.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri explains, under the county’s safer at home order, many of those businesses could remain open, but under the state’s order, they cannot.

“If it is not an essential service, and it is a business that is engaged in the definition of what’s not an essential service, we also have shut down that business,” said Sheriff Gualtieri. “People need to do the right thing and don’t play games.”

Deputy Jim Lancia is one of those making the rounds at businesses. He tells Eight on Your Side a majority of them are complying. He visited Halida Mennicken’s St. Pete Beach Boutique and she was already shut down.

Now she’s left wondering when she’ll be able to reopen.

“My customers are calling me…they are couped up in their houses and they would just like to know how everybody’s doing. When can we come to visit and shop?” said Mennicken. “It is caring. I built my business for thirty years. “

While a majority of businesses are playing by the rules, there are a few who are trying to bend them a bit like the Tobacco Depot in Clearwater.

“What they did is went out and bought a box of fruit loops, pop tarts and slim jims and put them out on the counter. And now they say we can stay open because we’re a convenience store,” said Sheriff Gualtieri. “Seriously? Don’t play this game. That’s nonsense. “

Gualtieri gave the location a citation.

When 8 On Your Side visited the store late Friday afternoon, there was a sign on the door indicating it is closed.


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