Safer at home orders: What do they mean?


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – With more than half of Tampa Bay under a safer-at-home order, you might be wondering where you’re allowed to go.

Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have both approved safer-at-home directions for residents during the COVID-19 outbreak. Pinellas County’s safer at home order went into effect before noon Thursday. Hillsborough County’s went into effect on Friday night.

A safer at home order restricts groups and travel except for when doing certain activities deemed “essential.” People will still be allowed to go to places like the grocery store and the gas station or to the hospital.

When it comes to enforcing the order, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said officers won’t be pulling over people to check where they are going.

“Make no mistake. There is no mandatory lockdown, no mandatory stay at home. We’re asking people to stay at home at this juncture,” Gualtieri said. “So, there’s no pulling anybody over because they’re out on the street. If you don’t have a necessity and you don’t have business being out there, then please, voluntarily adhere to this.”

It’s unclear exactly what the punishment for violating the order will look like in Pinellas County, but Hillsborough officials say violations are punishable with up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

People who run essential businesses are being asked to comply with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. Businesses that don’t adhere to those rules could be shut down, Gualtieri said.

“If they have ten chairs in a hair salon, you can’t occupy all ten chairs. If you have ten chairs in a waiting room, you better not have ten people sitting in that waiting room,” he said.

Gualtieri said “compliance teams” will be stationed throughout the county to respond to such offenses. The sheriff’s office is establishing a tip line where citizens can report violations, but the number was not disclosed. Gualtieri said people will be available to take calls from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week,

Gualtieri said 200 deputy sheriff’s and police officers began distributing 1,400 notices that are required to be posted on the front doors of retail establishments. The businesses will also be given a FAQ sheet for customers who ask questions.

“We need all of these business owners to help us help them. If they don’t take it seriously, and they don’t adhere, and if you don’t keep that distance and keep that space, then it could get worse, and the county commission could very well, and rightfully so make a decision to just shut everything down because people aren’t doing what is required of them,” the sheriff said.

Gualtieri said all of the county’s swimming pools will be closed under the order, but the rule does not apply to pools at single-family homes.

Gualtieri said golf courses can continue to operate under the order, but must clean carts at every use and have sanitizing wipes available at every hole.

Pinellas County is following guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security that explain what industries and employees are essential.

According to those guidelines, the following industries are considered essential to the infrastructure of the country:

Healthcare and public health

  • Hospital and laboratory personnel, caregivers, mental health workers, doctors, nurses, researchers, pharmacists, dentists, social workers, technicians, funeral home and cemetery workers.

Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders

  • Police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians, 911 call center workers and those who oversee emergency service operations.

Communications and information technology

  • Technicians, operators, call centers, wireline and wireless providers, cable service providers, satellite operations, and manufacturers and distributors of communications equipment. Workers who support radio, television, and media service, including news reporters, weather forecasters, studio, and technicians for news gathering and reporting, data center operators, HVAC and electrical engineers, security personnel, IT managers, software and hardware engineers, and database administrators.


  • Workers at manufacturing plants, workers in laboratories, workers at distribution facilities, workers who transport basic raw chemical materials to the producers of industrial and consumer goods, including hand sanitizers, food and food additives, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and paper products.

Government facilities

  • Election personnel, building employees, security staff, trade officials, custom workers, educators

Critical manufacturing

  • Workers who manufacture materials and products for medical supply chains, transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, dam operations, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, defense industrial base

Defense industrial base

  • Workers who support the U.S. military, including aerospace; mechanical and software engineers, manufacturing/production workers; IT support; security staff; security personnel; intelligence support, aircraft and weapon systems mechanics and maintainers.


  • Utilities and telecommunications staffers, natural gas/propane workers, the electricity industry, engineers, cybersecurity/risk management staff, and environmental remediation.


  • Bank employees, employees at other financial/lending institutions

Food and agriculture

  • Grocery store employees, pharmacy worker, some restaurant workers, including delivery drivers, company cafeterias, animal agriculture workers, and the food and beverage industries, farmers, food processing workers, warehouse workers, and food truck delivery drivers.

Nuclear reactors, materials, and wasteTransportation systems

  • Mass transit workers, auto repair and maintenance workers, trash collectors, postal and shipping workers, air traffic controllers, air transportation employees, dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop and rest area workers, and workers who maintain and inspect infrastructure.

Public Works

  • Workers who inspect and maintain dams, locks, levees, bridges, sewer main breaks, traffic signals and buried/underground utilities.


  • Employees needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure.

In Florida, restaurants, bars, taverns, pubs, banquet halls, cocktail lounges, breweries, cabarets, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gyms, fitness studios and beaches are considered non-essential.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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