Essential businesses, including e-scooter companies, discussed during Hillsborough County meeting

Before Governor Ron DeSantis' 'stay at home' executive order went into effect, Hillsborough County was trying to be lenient and keep even non-essential businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were allowing them to work, the businesses to remain open, but they must remain six feet apart,” said Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Les Miller.

County leaders are now saying the state order supersedes their original one.

Coronavirus stay-at-home order: What is an essential business or activity in Florida?

“Now it’s clear under the state order that the non-essential services must close,” said county attorney Christine Beck.

Miller gives an example of one such business that could have remained open prior to the state order, but now must close.

“Say they’re making carpets,” Miller said. “And that business has nine employees in there working. We would say, 'You can’t make carpets from home as long as you stay 6 feet apart, you can do that.' But making carpets is not an essential business under the governor’s executive order, so that business has to close, and now you have nine employees that are not working.”

Social distancing: What to do and what not to do to slow the spread of COVID-19

One business still deemed essential: scooter companies, because they fall under the transportation category.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor noted the devices are cleaned three times per day, which SPIN Scooters confirmed to FOX 13.

“The scooters are being wiped down, the employees are wearing gloves,” said Nabil Syed, Spin Scooters regional general manager. “When they go out and retrieve scooters, not only are they sanitizing the scooters they’re interacting with, but also scooters that are within the area.“

BIRD, another company that operates electronic scooters in Tampa, says it’s following similar guidelines by increasing the number of times its scooters are cleaned. The Lime scooter company, however, has currently paused its service due to COVID-19.

Another point of topic was the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that everyone should wear masks in public, which Hillsborough County’s health department supports.

“I see someone wearing a mask, and I think they’re doing a good service to reduce the risk they may have to infect others,” said Dr. Douglas Holt, the county’s director for the Department of Health.

Commissioner Miller says it’s a recommendation they will continue to push out to the community.

“If you can’t get a mask, get a bandana or a hanker chief, and put that up around your face. Just wear it around your face. If you must leave, put that mask on your face, but just be extremely, extremely careful and stay safe.”

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


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