St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is talking to officials in Pinellas County and the city of Tampa about a “stay at home” order to control the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.
Kriseman said he would prefer Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issue a statewide order, limiting movement that is not essential. DeSantis so far has declined to take that step, saying it could do more harm than good.
“In St. Petersburg, we don’t want to be an island on this. It doesn’t do us any good if we’re the only ones out there doing it and somebody leaves our city, goes to a nearby town and comes back, maybe bringing something into the city. That’s not the best way to approach this. The best way to approach this is statewide, but if we’re not going to do it statewide we’ve got to do it regionally,” Kriseman said in a Facebook live address Tuesday afternoon.
“St. Pete and Pinellas County and Tampa, we’ve all had conversations. I continue to have conversations with the leaders in Pinellas County and the mayor in Tampa. We are looking at stay at home orders. We want to do something that is regional. If the state isn’t going to do it, that’s the best way for us to approach it. We’ll continue to have those discussions and you should expect to see something happening in the very near future.”
The city and its regional partners are still working through details of a potential stay at home or shelter in place order, but essentially it means just what it sounds like, Kriseman said.
“We want you to stay at home,” he said, adding “We do recognize there needs to be some exceptions for essential services.” That could include going to a restaurant for a take-out order, going to the doctor or going to a park to walk, jog or ride a bike — provided people practice social distancing when they are out.
The mayor was asked about enforcement of a stay at home order.
“This is not a lockdown. This is not a curfew and this is not martial law. We’re going to be relaying on the good people of the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County and the city of Tampa and all the jurisdictions that fall within the boundaries of any order that comes out to follow the law, to follow the order, to self-police, to self-regulate, to stay at home, to social distance. If you are on the road, our officers aren’t going to stop you, or ask you for identification or papers or ask you where you are going. We’re going trust you are going to one of the places on the exemption list and if you’re not, then you are not looking out for your own health and you’re not looking out for the health of the city,” Kriseman said.
DeSantis declined to issue a statewide stay at home order, saying there’s a wide variance in coronavirus cases statewide. He also said people in other states that have issued similar orders, including New York, are leaving those states and coming to Florida. DeSantis late yesterday issued an executive order requiring 14-day self-quarantines for airline travelers from the Connecticut, New Jersey and New York who are coming to Florida.
Kriseman touched on a few other points during his remarks.
• Utility payments have not been discontinued but the city will not shut off delinquent accounts, and Kriseman asked that anyone who can pay their bill do so.
“We as a city have to continue to conduct our business, to make sure we are providing services to you and we have employees to pay. But more importantly we’re working on some plans to try and help and provide assistance to our small businesses, and having dollars continuing to come into the city only helps us in our efforts at providing assistance to our small business community,” Kriseman said.
• Kriseman and the mayors of other large Florida cities have asked DeSantis to suspend evictions and foreclosure actions. Kriseman also talked with the chief judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit in Pinellas and Pasco counties, who said he has to follow the law. Kriseman has spoken to the Pinellas County sheriff, urging him to put other priorities over evictions.
• Tropicana Field and Al Lang Stadium potentially could be used as mobile hospital sites, if that need arises. Several businesses also have offered empty warehouse and office space if needed for temporary healthcare settings. Kriseman also is trying to get a mobile testing site in the south Pinellas County area.
“It’s up to all of us to be responsible for ourselves and for our community. The best way to do that is through social distancing. The best way to do that is to stay home, work from home if you can, limit our trips outside of our house only to places that are essential — grocery store, pharmacies, doctors,” Kriseman said. “Make St. Petersburg the great place it is by working together for the benefit of all of us. Follow the simple rules and we’ll all be safer.”
The city has updates and information on Covid-19 coronavirus here.