Pinellas commissioners adopt phase one plan to reopen; sheriff expresses opposition

Pinellas County has aligned with Governor Ron DeSantis’ phase one plan to reopen restaurants and retail stores, with some restrictions.

Elective surgeries can resume, however, bars, gyms, and hair salons must remain closed.

Commissioners met Friday morning for the first time since DeSantis unveiled phase one of his plan.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says the governor’s order is too vague in terms of what kinds of businesses can open, and which ones should stay closed.

RELATED: Pinellas County commissioners vote to reopen beaches on Monday

Gualtieri clashed with a commissioner who expressed frustrations as to why yoga studios cannot open because they are considered a gym.

“What you’re asking for, unfortunately, you said you want clarity and you want it to be clear. You can’t be clear with mud and that’s what they gave us. They gave us a bucket of mud and when we asked for additional clarity and guidance out of the governor’s office, you know what we got? No, you’re stuck with it. You figure it out. We are not giving you anything,” Gualtieri said.

Earlier in the week, commissioners unanimously agreed to reopen hotel and condo association pools and playgrounds at childcare centers, which occurred Thursday

During Friday morning’s meeting, the sheriff also said he will have more than 250 deputies stationed at each beach access point when they reopen Monday morning at 7 a.m.

Groups of no more than 10 people are allowed but you have to space apart from others.

In Clearwater Beach, police, lifeguards and "beach ambassadors" will be on the lookout, reminding people to stay at least six feet apart. 

The beach ambassadors are employees with Clearwater Parks and Recreation and will be wearing black shirts and hats. They will be helping people space out and disinfecting high-touch areas, like the parking pay stations.

Clearwater’s mayor said they'll start turning people away if the beach becomes too crowded.

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

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