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Hillsborough County issues 'Safer-at-Home' order, forgoes curfew amid COVID-19 pandemic

The order allows law enforcement agencies the ability to act the restrictions.
Credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla — There will not be a curfew in Hillsborough County after all-- at least for now.

In a last-minute decision, the county's Emergency Policy Group voted unanimously to adopt a "Safer-at-Home" order that remains in effect 24/7.

The “Safer-at-Home” order was a better option for board members who thought a schedule of different curfew hours and days of the week might be confusing.

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister also described the word “curfew” as unnecessary.

“I think the word curfew is doing nothing but causing more panic in an already panic-stricken community,” he told board members.

Hillsborough also put some teeth into its decision, changing what was originally a directive – similar to the one Pinellas County had adopted earlier this week - to an order.

That distinction gives law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County legal authority to patrol business compliance and break-up groups of people that aren’t social distancing.

“We really need to get this under control. We’ve got to get the economy moving. Get people back to work. And I just think it’s necessary,” said Christina Callahan, out for walk on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa Thursday.

The order still lets everyone go to the store, the doctor, the bank and even get take out from restaurants. You can walk your dog. Ride a bike. Or just get some fresh air.

Businesses can also keep doing business as long as they’re defined as essential or able to maintain a 6-foot distance between workers and customers.

Industries likely to not be able to meet those criteria include hair and nail salons, barbers, massage spas, tailors and other professions which generally require contact.

The order takes effect Friday night. There’s been no discussion on when, or under what circumstances it would eventually be lifted.

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