On March 25, 2020, Pinellas County issued an order directing citizens to comply with the CDC guidelines of maintaining a distance of 6 feet from other individuals and not gathering in groups of more than 10 individuals, and to limit non-essential activities during the continued COVID-19 crisis. The Safer-At-Home Order went into effect at 11:27 a.m. on March 26, 2020, and will continue until the expiration of the existing Local State of Emergency.
Under the order, Pinellas County residents are encouraged to stay at home, but may travel outside the home to engage in the activities enumerated in the Order. Businesses providing "essential services," as well as other businesses that are able to maintain the CDC social distancing guidelines, may remain open. Regardless of whether a business falls into those categories, businesses may continue internal and minimum basic operations required to maintain the businesses, but are required to enforce CDC social distancing and group gathering guidelines as they apply to their workforce.
Businesses which do not provide essential services and which remain open pursuant to the Order must post the notice regarding the Safer at Home Order established by the County Administrator. The notice must be clearly visible at all times to those present on the premises, including customers and employees.
Places of public assembly, including, but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, water parks, public pools, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, publicly accessible children's play centers, public playground equipment, theme parks, bowling alleys, pool halls, theaters, concert and music halls, country clubs, social clubs, and fraternal organizations, must close to the public.
What activities are allowed?
Pursuant to the Order, individuals are permitted to leave their homes to perform the following activities:
- Obtaining primary or emergency care.
- Obtaining direct care support for a family member, relative, friend, or their pet.
- Obtaining healthcare and medical services.
- Buying groceries.
- Picking up takeout meals from local restaurants.
- Going to banks and related financial institutions.
- Going to laundromats or other laundry services.
- Performing essential home repairs and maintenance.
- Engaging in outdoor activities, such as walking pets, hiking, or biking, while following CDC guidelines.
- Going to veterinarians and pet boarding facilities.
- Going to gas stations, auto-supply, and auto-repair facilities.
- Performing essential work duties that cannot be performed from home.
- Providing any services or performing any work necessary to offer, provide, operate, maintain, and repair "essential infrastructure." Essential infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, food production, distribution, and sale; construction; building management and maintenance; airport operations; operation and maintenance of utilities, including water, sewer, and gas; electrical operations (including power generation, distribution, and production of raw materials); distribution centers; roads, highways, railroads, and public transportation; cybersecurity operations; flood control; solid waste and recycling collection and removal; and internet, video, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services).
What are Essential Services?
The following types of businesses are deemed to provide essential services under the Order, and are therefore allowed to remain open:
- Healthcare providers and public health operations (except to the extent precluded by the Governor's Executive Order 20-72 or any subsequent Executive Order), including but not limited to, hospitals; doctors' and dentists' offices; urgent care centers, clinics, and rehabilitation facilities; physical therapists; mental health professionals; psychiatrists; therapists; research and laboratory services; blood banks; medical cannabis facilities; medical equipment, devices, and other healthcare manufacturers and suppliers; reproductive health care providers; eye care centers; home healthcare services providers; substance abuse providers; medical transport services; and pharmacies.
- Grocery stores, farmers' markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of groceries, baby products, pet supply, alcoholic beverages, household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products), and products necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of residences and other structures.
- Businesses engaged in food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing.
- Businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals.
- Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services.
- Gas stations, auto-supply, and auto-repair facilities, as well as supply and repair facilities servicing bicycles.
- Banks and related financial institutions.
- Hardware, gardening, and building material stores.
- Contractors and other tradesmen, building and apartment management and maintenance (including janitorial companies servicing commercial businesses), home security firms, fire and water damage restoration services, appliance repair personnel, exterminators, and other service providers (such as landscape and pool maintenance service providers) who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other structures.
- Businesses primarily providing mailing, logistics, pick-up, and shipping services, including post office boxes.
- Private colleges, trade schools, and technical colleges, but only as needed to facilitate online or distance learning, perform critical research, or perform essential functions, as well as university, college, or technical college residence halls, but only to the extent needed to accommodate students who cannot return to their homes.
- Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers.
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food (subject to the limitations and requirements of the Governor's Executive Orders 20-68 and 20-71, and any subsequent Executive Orders).
- Businesses that primarily supply office products needed for people to operate open businesses or work from home (but not including businesses that primarily sell or lease furniture).
- Businesses that primarily supply other essential businesses and operations with the support or supplies necessary to operate, and which do not interact with the general public, including cybersecurity firms (but not including businesses that primarily sell or lease furniture).
- Businesses that primarily ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residents.
- Airlines, taxis, buses, and other private transportation providers.
- Businesses engaged in providing home-based care for seniors, adults, or children.
- Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, adult day care centers, and homebased and residential settings for adults, seniors, children, and/or people with disabilities or mental illness.
- Businesses providing professional services, such as legal or accounting services, to the extent those services comply with the social distancing requirements referenced herein.
- Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees employed by employers exempted in this Order to work as permitted.
- Businesses operating at any airport or other government facility (except as provided in the Governor's Executive Order 20-71).
- Logistics providers, including warehouses, trucking, consolidators, fumigators, and handlers.
- Telecommunications providers, including sales of computer or telecommunications devices and the provision of home telecommunications.
- Businesses engaged in the provision of propane or natural gas.
- Businesses engaged in the provision of office space and administrative support necessary to perform essential services.
- Businesses providing architectural, engineering, or land surveying services.
- Factories, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, bottling plants, or other industrial distribution and supply chain facilities used for essential products and industries for the U.S. domestic markets.
- Waste management services, including businesses engaged primarily in the collection and disposal of waste.
- Hotels, motels, other commercial lodging establishments, and temporary vacation rentals, subject to the limitations stated in the Governor's Executive Order 20-71.
- Veterinarians and pet boarding facilities.
- Mortuaries, funeral homes, and cemeteries, including funeral and cremation services.
- Businesses providing services to any local, state, or federal government, pursuant to a contract with such government and provided such services relate directly to a governmental response to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Electrical production and distribution services.
What Businesses Must Close?
Businesses which do not provide essential services as described above, or which cannot maintain CDC social distancing guidelines, must close.
For purposes of this Order, all employees of first responder entities as determined by the agency head, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement and corrections personnel, hazardous materials responders, child protection and child welfare personnel, housing and shelter personnel, military, and other governmental employees working for or to support "essential government functions" are exempt from the Order. The Order defines essential government functions as all services provided by the state or any constitutional office, municipality, county, subdivision, or agency of government, including public universities and colleges which are needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies or to provide for or support the health, safety, and welfare of the public, as well as contractors performing essential government functions.
Further, the Order does not affect or limit the operations of Pinellas County, any public utility, any municipality, the Pinellas County School District, any other local government entity in Pinellas County, or any state or federal office or facility.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.