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Hillsborough County passes 'safer-at-home' order

People are still allowed to leave their homes for "essential services."

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County approved a "safer-at-home" order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

It will go into effect at 10 p.m. Friday, March 27.

There are exceptions for "essential services." That includes going to the grocery store, the doctor's office and the pharmacy. People who live in the county are also allowed to leave their home for exercise but are strongly urged to remain at least six feet away from others.

Under the order, businesses that are considered essential must be able to operate under the CDC's social distancing guidelines, keeping employees and customers six feet away from each other.

If they can't do that, they must shut down.

The measure passed the county's Emergency Policy Group unanimously with an 8-0 vote.

Because it's an "order," law enforcement has the power to enforce it, but the EPG said that the initial enforcement would be done in the form of "education."

The city of Tampa offered this explanation on the county's order:

You can continue to:

  • Go to the grocery, convenience or warehouse store
  • Go to the pharmacy or other medical establishments to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities
  • Go to medical appointments (but first, check with your doctor or medical provider)
  • Go to a restaurant for take-out or drive-thru
  • Care for or support a friend or family member
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog and be in nature for exercise — just keep at least six (6) feet between you and others in the community
  • Walk your pets and, if necessary, take them to the veterinarian
  • Help someone to get necessary supplies

You should not:

  • Go to work unless you are performing an "essential service." 
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
  • Maintain less than six (6) feet of distance from others when you go out
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility

If you're curious about what counts as an "essential service," the city of Tampa says such services fall into three categories:

1. Government, Healthcare and Public Sector Services

  • Health care operations, including:
    • Physicians
    • Nurses
    • Ambulance Operators performing medical services
    • On-duty employees in hospitals and other medical facilities
  • On-duty military personnel
  • Personnel of public utilities or other essential infrastructure maintaining essential public services and infrastructure
  • Fire and emergency personnel
  • Law enforcement officers and personnel
  • First responders or other classes of persons essential to the preservation of public order or necessary to serve the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Tampa during this emergency
  • Scientific and medical research
  • Necessary travel as may be required to perform these essential government, health care and public sector service

2. Critical Infrastructure Workers. This includes individuals employed in or working to maintain continuity of operations of the following critical infrastructure sectors:

  • Healthcare/Public Health
  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety, First Responders
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Public Works
  • Communications and Information Technology
  • Other Community-Based Government Operations and Essential Functions
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Financial Services
  • Chemical
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Necessary travel as may be required to perform work in one of the above critical infrastructure sectors

3. Support Services for Necessary Activities: Any individuals that are employed by, work for, or provide volunteer services to governmental agencies, businesses, or social service or charitable organizations providing for or supporting any of the “Necessary Activities” including:

  • Health services
  • Shelters for persons or animals
  • Entities or persons providing care or assistance to others
  • Necessary travel as may be required to perform these support services for these “Necessary Activities”.

RELATED: Stay-at-home vs shelter-in-place: Here's what they mean

RELATED: Pinellas County issues 'safer-at-home' order to stop spread of COVID-19

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