After suing Pinellas County, car wash is now allowed to reopen -- but only for essential workers

Woodie's Wash Shack in St. Petersburg has been authorized to reopen after filing a lawsuit against Pinellas County.

The business was one of many car washes that was forced to close after leaders deemed it non-essential. However, after an inspection by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, Woodie's proved it can be an essential service, but only for essential workers.

The car wash, located at 5601 66th Street North, filed a temporary injunction about two weeks ago claiming it does provide an "essential service," and listed several practices it follows that fall under the governor's stay-at-home order.

One of those services read in part, "workers providing disinfection services for all essential modes of transportation."

“What is unique and different and not done in the past is that we are now sanitizing the interior of the car,” owner Donald Phillips told FOX 13.  “[We use] EPA certified chemicals, all of which we’ve obtained through the medical industry.”

(Woodie's Wash Shack)

According to a letter by the sheriff's office, Phillips provided the following ways it would disinfect:

Vehicle exterior is passed through a 135-foot tunnel, where the specialized disinfectant is applied

The interior is disinfected with one of the two specialized solutions applied via a specialized fogger and single-use wipes.

There will be some limitations to the business' operations. All of its customers must be essential workers and no service can be provided to the general public. Phillips says they are confirming that with each customer who arrives.

Also, all of those customers must receive the disinfection services. No "regular" car washes are allowed.

RELATED: Pinellas County faces first COVID-19-related lawsuit after car wash sues over 'essential' service conflict

After inspecting the products and modes of applying the disinfection products, the sheriff's office deemed the car wash an essential business. 

It's unclear how these changes could impact other car washes in the county. When Pinellas County issued its own safer-at-home order, car washes were deemed non-essential.

The lawsuit was the first COVID-19 related case filed against the county. The list of essential and non-essential services were based on the county's own interpretation of Governor Ron Desantis' order. 

Last week, County Administrator Barry Burton reiterated that he has reached out to the governor's office to clarify the state's list of essential businesses and services, including car washes, but has not received a response.