Tampa mayor moves closer to issuing own 'stay-at-home' order to contain coronavirus

One day after failing to convince Hillsborough County leaders to enact a stay-at-home order, Tampa mayor Jane Castor says she is close to issuing one on her own – setting up a potential standoff with the county administrator.

Castor said Tuesday evening that the order, which would be limited only to the city of Tampa, could be in effect as soon as late Wednesday night. It would direct residents to eliminate non-essential trips and gatherings as the city tries to slow the spread of COVID-19, but allow for important errands and outdoor exercise.

"You still have the freedom to move about...be able to go to the grocery store, pharmacy; whatever you need to do," she explained. "Any business where you can have that social distance would be OK to operate."

Castor said she had spoken to leaders in San Francisco about how they implemented their order, which was one of the first to be issued.

"I am going to do everything in my power and take every step necessary to protect our citizens," Castor insisted.

St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman, who said he’s also working on a stay-at-home order for his city, has been consulting with Mayor Castor as well. Both mayors, he said, agreed that a statewide approach would be more practical and effective than a localized one, but Gov. Ron DeSantis said he does not favor issuing such an order. 

Castor had asked the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group to issue a countywide stay-at-home order on Monday, but was overruled by others who were concerned about the practical and economic impacts that would result.

As word of Castor’s plans got out Tuesday, Hillsborough’s county administrator issued his own administrative order seeking to block Castor’s order.

“No Stay-at-Home order shall be applicable in any portion of Hillsborough County until further direction by the Emergency Policy Group, unless as may be necessary under my delegated authority,” Michael Merrill wrote.

It was not immediately clear what effect Merrill’s order would have on any directive from Castor. When asked, a city spokesperson replied, "The Mayor will continue to take the steps necessary to protect the residents of Tampa."

RELATED: Testing site at Raymond James Stadium will open Wednesday

The EPG, meanwhile, plans to meet Wednesday to discuss a possible countywide curfew, one day sooner than planned.

Castor says she opposes a curfew because it's limited only to certain hours and too restrictive during those times.

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

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know

AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com

Map of known COVID-19 cases:

MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map