Pinellas County Commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved an order closing all non-essential businesses for 30-days.
The order comes one day after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide safe-at-home order that will go into effect Friday at 12:01 a.m. That order does not specifically order non-essential businesses to close, but outlines what qualifies as an essential service or activity, showing intent to close those not on the list.
Pinellas County’s order will go into effect at the same time as the Governor’s, but it lacks the same guidance from the Department of Homeland Security to define essential services.
Instead, Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton and Sheriff Bob Gualtieri will compile a list of businesses that will have to shutter during the 30-day order.
An initial conversation included lighting stores, barbershops and hair salons, car washes and beauty supply stores as examples of businesses that would have to shut down.
Burton told Commissioners he attempted to get clarity from the Governor’s office about business closures as well as a better definition of who can and cannot go out, but didn’t receive a response as of the meeting.
The executive order includes a clause ordering “senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying medical condition” to “stay at home.” But the order does not define the age at which a person is considered senior.
The order also includes another provision that permits essential activities including attending religious services, participating in recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines, taking care of pets and caring for or assisting friends or loved ones. It’s not clear whether those essential activities would apply to senior citizens.
Gualtieri said that because the order is so vague and “not done with clarity” his deputies will not be pulling over or otherwise stopping individuals to inquire about their age or intended destination or purpose for being out of the home.
As with Pinellas County’s previous safer-at-home order, essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and banks would remain open.