Hernando, Pinellas allow businesses not included in phase one plan to reopen

As Florida continues to reopen, two counties in the Tampa Bay region are allowing some businesses to reopen beyond the governor’s verbal guidance. Pinellas and Hernando counties are opening certain businesses most other counties are not.

Movie theaters, tattoo parlors, and auditoriums can open with 50% occupancy and keeping people 6 feet apart.

The governor says his phase one reopening plans don’t include those businesses, but Pinellas County says their interpretation of the plan says otherwise.

“It didn’t come out in the order and all we can do is interpret and apply the order,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

Hernando County decided to follow Pinellas’ lead.

“I know some are concerned about the health and about the risk, the data right now, that additional restrictions are necessary in Hernando County,” Sheriff Al Nienhuis said.

Hernando County is behind other Bay Area counties when it comes to testing for COVID-19 cases – the reason for the now-relaxed restrictions. Fewer than 2% of Hernando residents have been tested, comparted to an average of almost 3% in the region and 3.8% statewide.

In Pinellas County, 3.3% of the population has been tested and 3.4% of those tested have been positive. The percentage of positive cases for those tested in Hernando County is also 3.4%.

Though now that Hernando is following Pinellas, which was going at it alone, people in downtown Brooksville Thursday didn’t seem to care.

“I believe people should be able to make that choice, if you don’t want to go out, don’t go out,” a passerby told FOX 13 News.