Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step

As of May 18, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ full Phase 1 of the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery took effect. Phase 1 includes provisions that encourage Floridians to limit personal interactions outside the home and exercise responsible individual activity, but allows the conditional reopening of certain activities, stores, restaurants, fitness centers, and cultural facilities. The Governor has issued several Orders for Phase 1. We encourage all Hillsborough County to completely read the Orders:

Below are some basic answers to frequently asked questions. These answers are not meant to replace the Orders, but simply provide a quick overview to assist you in sorting through the information. 

Hillsborough County emergency leaders have aligned the community’s COVID-19 coronavirus recovery to the plan announced by Governor Ron DeSantis.

See more information about County Services.

During Phase 1, vulnerable individuals, including seniors and individuals with a significant underlying medical condition, should avoid close contact with people outside of the home and are strongly encouraged to take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19 as recommended by the CDC.

What You Should Know

Are there any rules in Hillsborough County that are different from the Governor’s new order? 
No. For now, the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group has aligned the community’s COVID-19 coronavirus response with the state plan  State Plan for Florida’s Recovery.

What should I do when I am in public?
Phase 1 contains provisions to continue to safeguard the public so residents should continue to take these steps to safeguard themselves and others:

  • All individuals, when in public, should maximize physical distance from others.
  • Avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • Cloth face coverings are recommended in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies). See a how to video on making face coverings as well as in Spanish.
  • To reduce risk, the Centers for Disease Control recommends washing hands often, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
  • Visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities are prohibited.

Can I go to my favorite restaurant?
Restaurants may offer outdoor seating, as well as indoor seating at 50% of building seating capacity. The requirement for a minimum of 6 feet between parties is superseded to the extent appropriate partitioning is in place. Bar counters in restaurants remain closed. The Department of Business & Professional Regulation provides mandatory measures and best practices. The State also provides a helpful FAQ document with additional details.

Can I shop in a store?
In-store retail businesses are allowed to operate at 50% occupancy and must abide by CDC and OSHA  safety guidelines. 

Can I visit a family member? 
Yes, if caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend.

Can visitors enter nursing homes and long-term care facilities? 
No, those restrictions remain in place in Phase 1 of the Governor’s Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan in accordance with conditions set by the Agency for Health Care Administration.

May I exercise outside or participate in recreational activities? 
Yes, if consistent with social distancing guidelines as published by the Centers for Disease Control.

Can I go to my doctor if it’s not COVID-19 related? 

Yes, you should always seek medical care when needed.

Can I have an elective medical procedure?
Elective medical procedures may resume at hospital ambulatory surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental offices, orthodontic offices, endodontic office, and other health care practitioners’ offices that meet certain conditions including adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

May childcare centers open? 
Childcare facilities that provide services that enable employees exempted under the Governor’s order to work as permitted are allowed to open. Childcare facilities must also operate under stringent social distancing guidelines. Florida Department of Children and Families provides guidance to childcare providers. Florida Department of Education has prioritized children of medical professionals and first responders working at businesses or operations that are essential services, to the extent those childcare centers adhere to social distancing.

Are gyms and fitness centers open?
Yes. Gyms and fitness centers may operate up to 50% of their building occupancy so long as they adopt safety measures including appropriate social distancing for classes and sufficient cleaning supplies to ensure, at a minimum, patrons' individual self-cleaning of surfaces and machines using sanitation wipes following each use.

May churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship hold services? 
Yes, there has been no change on the ability to hold/attend these services. According to the State’s FAQ’s for Executive Order 20-112, any building or venue that is open should follow appropriate social distancing and sanitation procedures. The Florida Department of Health encourages churches, synagogues or other houses of worship to follow CDC guidance specific to faith organizations.

Can I rent or stay at a vacation rental?
Yes, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has approved Hillsborough County’s plan for vacation rentals.

Are museums open? 
Museums may open at no more than 50% of their building occupancy. Interactive shared exhibits, like child play areas, remain closed.


What Businesses Should Know 

Executive Order 20-112, Executive Order 20-120, and Executive Order 20-123 provide direction on what businesses can reopen and under what restrictions in order to protect public health and safety. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation provides additional guidance on health and safety requirements for specific businesses. 

Are personal services allowed to reopen and provide services under Executive Order 20-120?
Effective May 11, holders of the following state-issued barber or cosmetology licenses may provide services at establishments that adopt appropriate social distancing and precautionary measures directed in Executive Order 20-120: Barber; Restricted Barber; Cosmetologist; Nail Specialist; Facial Specialist; Full Specialist; Hair Braider; Hair Wrapper; and Body Wrapper.

These license holders are permitted to perform the barbering or cosmetology services as authorized by their respective license or registration. More on safety & sanitation, occupancy, hours and appointments can be found here. The enclosed restrictions are mandatory and must be followed by barbershops, cosmetology salons, and cosmetology specialty salons.

What businesses remain closed? 
Bars, pubs, nightclubs, movie theaters, and concert venues remain closed.

May my business and its employees continue to operate remotely and provide delivery of our product? 
Yes, all businesses are encouraged to provide delivery or pickup and to take orders online or by telephone.

Are there minimum health protocols that must be met to open my business? 
Yes, the Governor’s Executive Orders and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation require appropriate social distancing, as well as safety measures for cleaning and sanitation that are specific to certain businesses. 

What do I need to do to open my business? 
Review the requirements of Governor’s Executive Order 20-112, Executive Order 20-120, and Executive Order 20-123. Also review any guidance that has been provided from state and federal regulatory agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. You may also want to review guidance published by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Where can I report a business that violates the Governor’s Executive Order? 
Local law enforcement.


Safety Precautions

Vulnerable individuals should avoid close contact with people outside the home. The CDC recommends continuing social distancing while in public, avoiding groups of 10 or larger and using face coverings in public when you can’t maintain 6 feet away from others.

Reduce your risk 

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and toss used paper towels in the trash.
  • Wash after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Wash after touching someone.
  • If you don’t have soap and water, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Cough and sneeze into your bent elbow or a tissue. Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Health officials are recommending people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth when in community settings. Get instructions on how to make your own face covering out of common household items.

Face Coverings

Health Experts Recommend Wearing Face Masks in Public to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 - Watch Video