Hillsborough moves forward with 'safer-at-home' order and curfew, finalizing details Thursday

Hillsborough leaders want you to stay home as much as possible.  A countywide ‘safer-at-home’ directive and curfew order are set to be voted on Thursday.

It’s not official yet but starting Friday Hillsborough County plans to enforce a nightly curfew and ask non-essential businesses to send workers home, all meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

LINK: Department of Homeland Security guidance on essential workforce

“We really need to encourage and keep people focused on maintaining safe distances,” said county administrator Mike Merrill. “But yet the curfews allow people to take care of necessities, get food, get medicine, it allows people to recreate, to ride their bike, walk their dog, do what they need to do but to maintain safe distances.”

The plan on the table is a mandatory curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly. On the weekends, it will last 24-hours, meaning from 10 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday you should be at your home.

RELATED: Tampa mayor to issue stay-at-home order for city residents; goes into effect Thursday

“We are asking everyone to stay at home and work from home if any way possible. If that is not possible and you provide an essential service, as long as you can stay six feet away from other individuals then you can perform that service,” explained Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

The order will essentially shut down any non-essential businesses that can’t stay six feet away from customers, and employees can’t work from home, like hair salons and massage parlors.

RELATED: Pinellas issues safer-at-home resolution for one week; will not for non-essential businesses to close

“Those will be enforced with fines and penalties,” Merrill said. “We take this very seriously.”

Leaders want people to take personal responsibility and do their part to keep the rest of the people in the county healthy.

“Forget the word curfew, think about saving lives, including your own,” County Commissioner Les Miller said. “That’s the most important thing about this whole concept we’re putting together.”

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group is set to vote on the plan at their 1:30 p.m., meeting Thursday. If approved, the safer-at-home directive and curfew order will take effect Friday at 10 p.m.

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 covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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