Hillsborough residents heeding 'safer-at-home' order

Saturday marked the first day since the new ‘safer at home’ order went into effect across Hillsborough County. Officials are encouraging residents to not go out unless absolutely necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The empty Tampa streets Saturday morning were an eerie sight but a good sign that the order might be working.

"There's no one there, there's no cars, it's very, very strange," said Kelvin Harrylall, a local jogger. 

The new order went into effect at 10 p.m. on Friday. City parks were locked up, and residents were encouraged to stay in their homes as much as possible.

"It has been an impact, definitely. It's usually very fast-paced during the weekend, but everyone's being very cautious about what is happening," said Vanessa Izaguirre, a local rollerblading on the riverwalk.

For those who didn't get the memo, workers were patrolling Curtis Hixon Park Saturday morning asking folk to head home. However, for the most part, it seems that not many people ventured past their front door.

"Everyone's listening to the orders, everyone's taking the necessary precautions," said Harrylall. "I think it being a ghost town is exactly what we need."

Places like Bayshore and the Tampa Riverwalk are still open to joggers and those hoping to take a break from the indoors. But even there, runners and walkers could be spotted keeping a safe distance from one another on the path.

"I have my rollerblades so I'm keeping away from everybody as fast as possible," said Izaguirre. "However, I see everybody that has been very respectful. They're not coming, they're not approaching you."

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Under the new order, residents are advised against going out to socialize, unless necessary, especially with the elderly. Unless you are providing an essential service, folks are encouraged to work from home.

However, the order isn't a lock-down. Residents can still leave their home to get groceries or get medication, pick up a to-go order at a restaurant and get some fresh air.  

"I think it's definitely needed. It's not just about getting the virus but also spreading the virus as well, so making sure that we're making the community safe, not just ourselves safe," said Harrylall.

Local officials continue to remind the public that for you and those you love, it is truly safer at home. 

The new order is enforceable by law, so local officials are encouraging residents to abide by the guidelines. Currently, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says there is no specified end date for the order. 

For more information about what the order entails, click here.

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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