Hillsborough Emergency Leaders Implore Religious Leaders to Keep Their Congregations Safe

COVID-19 Coronavirus Update No. 46

Hillsborough County, Fla. (April 2, 2020) - Members of the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group (EPG) urge local religious leaders to implement social distancing guidelines and limits on the size of gatherings as the number of Floridians testing positive for COVID-19 coronavirus continues to climb.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order stating that all persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal actions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities. The order also defined as an essential activity "attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship," without specific restrictions on social distancing.

A follow-up order from the governor supersedes conflicting local action, such as Hillsborough County's efforts to keep residents safe by limiting such gatherings to 10 people who must maintain a physical separation of 6 feet.

EPG members this afternoon voted to issue guidelines to leaders of churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship in an effort to continue these best practices for gatherings and help prevent the spread of the virus.

In other action, EPG members voted to extend the state of local emergency in response to COVID-19. By Florida statute, a state of local emergency can be in effect for only seven days, unless rescinded.

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group is comprised of three County Commissioners, the mayors from the cities of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace, the Sheriff, and Chairman of the School Board. Authority is granted by Article 8 of the Florida Constitution, Section 125.66 and Chapter 252, Florida Statutes. Hillsborough County enacted Hillsborough County Code of Ordinances and Laws Chapter 22, Article II, Sections 22-23 in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the County's residents during declared emergencies.

The EPG's next meeting is scheduled Monday, April 6 at 1:30 p.m.

Other Hillsborough County News

Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation has extended summer camp registration for current after-school program participants until Thursday, April 30. Public online registration will now start Friday, May 1.

Hillsborough County is partnering with Prospera to expand free assistance for businesses in Spanish. Contact Prospera with questions about business assistance programs or to schedule a virtual meeting with a business consultant at (813) 634-6246 or

Get Connected. Stay Alert.
For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the region, visit and sign up for the HCFL Alert system. Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor for updates. For general County information, call (813) 272-5900, the County's main information line.