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Curfew Set For Hillsborough County Weekends, Weeknights

Downtown Tampa
Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Hillsborough County could soon be under a weekend and weeknight curfew -- as early as Friday.

On Wednesday, members of the county's Emergency Policy Group unanimously approved setting up a vote for the curfew during their next meeting  at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

The move to limit the spread of coronavirus would set up a countywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. weeknights; and from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

If passed, it would also enact a "stay-at-home" policy all week long.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor worked out the plan with county officials before a city-wide stay-at-home policy was to be enacted at midnight. Hillsborough County Commission Chair Les Miller referenced that struggle when he opened the meeting.

"I believe we're at a point now where we could come together and take off the armor of war," he said, "and lay the olive branch on the table and let's work together to get these things done."

Miller said it took him, Castor and County Administrator Mike Merrill to make it work.

"We all came together, with what the mayor had and what Mr. Merrill was putting together. What we all came together on - that's the most important thing - saving lives," Miller said.

Castor joined him during a post-meeting Facebook Live post.

"Everyone needs to understand that this can ultimately be a life-and-death situation," Castor said. "So they need to understand their personal responsibility, they need to take it seriously."

The move comes the same day Pinellas County Commissioners votedto enact a stay-at-home order for a week.

A stay-at-home orderwould mean the following:

  • All non-essential workers are encouraged to work from home.
  • If you can’t work from home, you must be at least 6 feet away from colleagues and customers at all times.
  • If you can’t manage distance between colleagues or customers, you’re asked to stay home.

A curfewmeans:

  • All essential travel (travel that’s not for food, medicine, essential supplies, employment) would be banned 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday and the entire weekend.

When asked how they will enforce the curfew, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said, "We're relying on people to be good citizens."

"We're not looking at arresting people. We're not looking at putting people in jail," Dugan said in a separate Facebook Live video. "But let me be perfectly clear - if you break the law, we're going to arrest you. The Hillsborough jail is open for business. And we are going to enforce the law, no matter what that is. And that's what people need to understand."

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.