Polk County hopes for complete compliance during 'stay-at-home' order, vows to enforce if necessary

There are only a handful of people out and about in downtown Lakeland on Thursday and that number is likely to decreases even further when the governor’s new ‘stay-at-home’ order goes into effect Friday at 12:01 a.m.

Under the order, most people are required by law to stay at home most of the time, with a few exceptions.

You can go grocery shopping, to the doctor's office, or the veterinarian. You can exercise as long as you practice social distancing. If you’re performing what is considered an essential job, you can go to work.

But here is the bottom line. The state doesn’t want anyone in public just hanging out in a group or going on joy rides, or doing anything else that might encourage the spread of COVID-19.

So what could happen to you if you violate the ‘stay-at-home’ order?

“If we get to the point of non-compliance we’ll take enforcement action,” Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia told FOX 13 just hours before the order kicked in.

RELATED: Lakeland commissioners vote to close all city parks

“It is a second-degree misdemeanor not to follow the order, and that could result in a citation being issued, and a notice to appear, and incarceration,” Garcia explained.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd added, " Our goal is not to arrest anyone at all for violating any of these rules. We will have to be really forced into a situation to make an arrest."

A judge could sentence those caught violating the 'stay-at-home' order to a maximum of 30 days behind bars.

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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AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com

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