CLEARWATER, Fla. - Businesses across the state have locked up the shut down after a statewide order forcing all non-essential businesses to close went into effect Friday.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said educating business owners is his main priority. He says issuing citations will certainly come later if businesses previously told to shut down - don't.
"It's only fair that people know what the rules are and if people know what the rules are we hope that they are going to comply with the rules," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. "People need to do the right thing. This isn't hard. Do the right thing."
The sheriff showed us what he meant Friday. He said Tobacco Depot in Clearwater got a visit from the county's compliance team.
"They should be shut down, but what they did is they went out and bought a box of Fruit Loops, Pop-tarts, Mini Wheats and Slim Jims and they put them on the counter and they say 'Well, now we can stay open because we're a convenience store," Gualtieri said.
In Manatee County, Hobby Lobby is now temporarily closed after getting a visit from deputies Friday.
The national chain initially resisted closing some of its stores arguing they were an essential business because they sold materials to make protective equipment.
"We are prepared to reopen our stores in a responsible way when the current situation improves," a Hobby Lobby spokesperson said in a statement Friday.
Also in Manatee County, Bingoland is now temporarily shut down after a visit by compliance officials.
The statewide order is in effect until at least May 1.
"If people are trying to do the right thing, we're going to work with them all day long, but people who are running around playing games like this, we are not going to have the patience for it," Gualtieri said.
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@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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