Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

Please visit our Testing Info page for the latest information on COVID-19 testing.

Are restaurant owners and managers required to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms?

The Governor’s office has issued Executive Order 20-192 requiring restaurant owners and managers to screen employees per CDC Guidelines for Restaurants and Bars

Executive Order 20-192: The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) shall ensure all restaurants implement employee screening protocols pursuant to guidance developed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Guidelines for Restaurants:

Recognize Signs and Symptoms

Are bars and nightclubs open in Pinellas County?

Effective September 14, 2020, the state has allowed bars to reopen at 50 percent of capacity, for seated service only. Some countywide restrictions are still in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

Ordinance 20-14, passed by the Board of County Commissioners in June, has specific requirements for restaurants and bars that continue to be in effect in conjunction with the state’s limitations. 

• Employees must wear a face covering whether directly or indirectly preparing food or drinks, whether having customer contact or not, and whether indoors or outdoors. 
• Patrons must wear a face covering except when seated and consuming food or a drink and distanced six feet from other parties 
• Standing at a bar is prohibited. The state’s reopening plan and the County ordinance require that patrons be seated to be served drinks for on-site consumption.
• Tables/bar stools must be spaced so that individuals and their companion(s) are separated six feet from others. Tables are limited to 10 guests. 
• Standing areas are not allowed. Patrons waiting to be seated must remain distanced in groups of no more than 10 people.
• Bars and restaurants must establish rules that encourage social distancing, hand-washing and other protective measures based on CDC guidance.

 The ordinance will remain in effect until the Board of County Commissioners repeals it or allows the county’s State of Local Emergency declaration to expire.

Can a bar sell alcoholic beverages in a sealed container to consume offsite?

Emergency Order 2020-09 states that vendors of alcoholic beverages may continue to sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for consumption off the premises in accordance with Executive Order 20-71, Sections 1 and 2.

Can restaurants or other food service establishments sell alcoholic beverages under Emergency Order 2020-09?

Emergency Order 2020-09 states that public food service establishments or “restaurants,” as defined under Chapter 509, Florida Statutes, may continue to operate for on-premise consumption of food and beverages at tables pursuant to the restrictions in Executive Order 20-139, providing for appropriate social distancing and operating at 50 percent of their indoor capacity, so long as these vendors derive 50 percent or less of their gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.

Are restaurants open? 

Restaurants and food establishments may reopen indoor dining areas with a maximum patron occupancy of 50 percent of the stated building capacity (as allowed by local ordinances). Outdoor seating is allowed without capacity percentage limitations, and as of 12:01 a.m., June 5, 2020, bar areas may be open with seated service.  

Do I need to wear a mask in public?

The Board of County Commissioners adopted an emergency face covering ordinance that requires citizens wear face coverings in most indoor public places, and restaurants and bars to implement new safety and anti-crowding measures.

The countywide ordinance took effect Wednesday, June 24, at 5 p.m., and will remain in effect through the duration of Pinellas County’s State of Local Emergency.

The ordinance defines a face covering as a material that covers the nose and mouth and remains affixed or a face shield. A cloth face covering, or mask, may be factory-made or sewn by hand and can be improvised from clothing or other household fabric items.

Requirements:

  • Citizens must wear a face covering while in most indoor public places within Pinellas County, although the Board provided several exceptions. Among them:
    • The mandate cannot conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    • It does not apply if a person is strictly adhering to social distancing and there are 10 or fewer people in the location who are also maintaining social distancing.
    • It does not apply to governmental entities such as schools, courthouses or city halls, although those entities are encouraged to develop procedures to protect employees and the public. 
    • If a person is under age 18, that person’s use of a face covering is left to the discretion of that person’s parent, guardian or an accompanying adult. 
    • Religious rituals such as various forms of singing are permitted provided that social distancing is strictly maintained.
    • Exercising while social distancing, such as in a gym, is permitted without a face covering. 
  • Restaurant staff must wear a face covering while on duty and while directly or indirectly preparing food or beverage, or serving food or beverage, or having customer contact, regardless of where the food or beverage is being prepared or whether the customers are inside or outside. Customers can remove their face coverings while dining or consuming a beverage when seated and social distancing.
  • Restaurants must position chairs and tables so that parties of one or more are separated by six feet and patrons are not standing at the bar or congregating in any area.
  • Retail employees must wear face coverings unless working in an area of the business that is not open to the customers and has social distancing measures in place. 

Enforcement
The Board elected to adopt the emergency order by ordinance to allow it to be enforced as a non-criminal local ordinance violation, in addition to other enforcement remedies. Remedies include: 

  • A warning.
  • A non-criminal ordinance violation citation that levies a fine. 
  • Injunctive relief through a complaint filed in Circuit Court. 
  • Misdemeanor arrest or a Notice to Appear for Repeat Violations.

See the detailed FAQ about face coverings for more information.

Do out-of-state visitors need to quarantine?

On March 24, 2020, Governor DeSantis directed all visitors entering Florida from the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into Florida or the duration of the individual’s presence in Florida, whichever is shorter. On March 27, he directed all visitors from Louisiana to do the same. This includes visitors entering Florida by roadways. Visit the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 website for the latest information on travel restrictions.

The CDC also provides guidance on travel. More information can be found on the CDC’s Travelers page and travel FAQs page


Are massage therapy businesses and other personal services businesses open?

Personal Services Businesses, such as nail salons, barbershops, hair salons, cosmetology specialty salons, tattoo services, massage services, and other one-on-one services may operate with appropriate safety guidelines as outlined by the Department of Health.


Can gyms and fitness centers reopen?

Gyms and fitness centers may reopen statewide as of May 18, 2020. Details available here.


What are the restrictions on barbershops and salons?

The State is allowing these establishments to reopen as of May 11 “provided they adopt social distancing and precautionary measures” that include the following:

  • Scheduling by appointment only, 
  • No group appointments,  
  • Allowing 15 minutes between customers to allow for proper disinfecting practices, and  
  • A requirement that all employees wear masks while providing personal services.  

Additionally, the following safety and sanitation procedures are recommended, but not required: 

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect prior to reopening. Make sure to disinfect all surfaces, tools and linens, even if they were cleaned before you originally closed. This type of cleaning should continue between each day of operation. 
  • Consider providing unworn masks to clients for use during their appointment. 
  • Remove all unnecessary, frequently touched items like magazines, newspapers, service menus and any other unnecessary paper products and décor from customer service areas. 

The governor’s office also provided answers to frequently asked questions (PDF).


Are the beaches and pools open?

  • Pinellas County authorized shared pools to reopen as of April 30. As of May 28, hotel and motel pools may return to operating at full maximum load capacity. HOA, apartment, condominium and all other pool operators may resume full capacity starting on Monday, June 1.
  • Pinellas County public beaches and beach parking reopened on Monday, May 4, for all activities. As of Thursday, May 28, beach visitors are strongly encouraged but not required to continue practicing social distancing when visiting the beaches.

Can short-term rentals accept reservations?

Vacation rentals may take reservations and operate with restrictions.    Property owners and managers will receive comprehensive guidelines outlining safety and sanitation measures that must be followed to reopen. Reservations from areas identified by Gov. DeSantis as high risk must be for periods longer than the required quarantine period. Guests must be advised to practice CDC-recommended social distancing, and public seating must be situated, and common areas marked, to facilitate separation.

There are numerous other requirements listed under the categories Guest Safety/Health, Employee Safety/Hygiene, Property Cleanliness, Pools & Beaches and more.

Are non-essential businesses open?

Non-essential businesses may open. Social distancing principles must be employed. In-store activities can resume to the occupancy of the stated building capacity. Pet grooming and car washes are included among the businesses that are allowed to operate. The county’s guidance strongly encourages residents to wear masks while patronizing indoor businesses. 


What about museums and libraries? 

As of May 4, 2020, museums and libraries may reopen to a patron occupancy of 50 percent, but interactive functions and exhibits, and child play areas must stay closed. Local governments may decide to keep museums and libraries closed. 


Are county and state parks open? 

Most county parks have remained open during the COVID-19 outbreak.  
 
As of Wednesday, May 20, visitors can make online campground reservations at Fort Desoto and Shell Key preserve. More information here.
 
For more information regarding county parks, visit the Parks & Preserves webpage

State parks reopened on Monday, May 4.


What about playgrounds?

Effective immediately, childcare facility playgrounds may resume their regular playground capacity and operations.

Effective Monday, June 1, public playgrounds in Pinellas County may reopen with strong social distancing and safety reminders. Caregivers visiting public playgrounds with children are strongly encouraged to practice increased hand sanitation, and consider bringing hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes with them.


I’m a nonprofit. How can I apply for funds to assist with COVID-related needs?

Nonprofits and community organizations serving low to moderate income residents can apply for funds through Pinellas County’s portion of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Community Development Block Grant Program and Emergency Solution Grant to support public health and testing, feeding operations, emergency sheltering, housing and other services.

Applications must be submitted online no later than 5 p.m., on June 30 through the County’s website at: www.pinellascounty.org/community/nofa/executive.htm.


Are Pinellas County schools closed?

Governor DeSantis and the Department of Education have required all school districts in the state of Florida to close for students through the remainder of the school year due to the COVID-19 health crisis.  For the latest information on schools, visit the Pinellas County Schools Health and Safety page and the Pinellas County Schools Coronavirus page.


Are churches, temples, and other places of worship allowed to remain open? 

The governor’s order allows places of worship to hold services as long as CDC social distancing guidelines can be maintained. 


Are the courts open? Do I still have jury duty?

For the best and latest information about Pinellas County court proceedings, visit the Pinellas Clerk’s Office Coronavirus page, or by email at clerkinfo@mypinellasclerk.org.

Jury Service
Per the Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order 20-23, Amendment 3 all criminal or civil jury trials, jury selection, and grand jury proceedings are now suspended until close of business Friday, July 17, 2020. All summoned jurors have been excused and will not be rescheduled.

Court Hearings
Per Florida Supreme Court Order 20-15 and Administrative Order 2020-008 effective Monday March 23, the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida will suspend assorted proceedings and hearings for an unspecified time, addressing only “mission critical” cases, such as first appearances, detention hearings, terminations of parental rights, issuance of warrants/authorization of wiretaps, and other emergency matters as determined by each judge. For more information, visit the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court website.

Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida will suspend assorted proceedings and hearings for an unspecified time, addressing only “mission critical” cases, such as first appearances, detention hearings, terminations of parental rights, issuance of warrants/authorization of wiretaps, and other emergency matters as determined by each judge.


Are elective medical procedures allowed? 

Elective procedures may resume as of Monday, May 4, 2020, subject to the conditions in the governor’s Executive Order 20-112 (PDF). These conditions can be found on page 6 of the order


Are evictions and mortgage foreclosures suspended at this time?

Yes. Under an extension of the governor’s Executive Order 20-159, evictions and mortgage foreclosures will be suspended through Sept. 1, 2020.


Should I cancel my travel plans? What travel restrictions are in place?

Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-112 requires Floridians to avoid nonessential travel, including to U.S. states and cities outside of Florida with a significant presence of COVID-19. The order also requires residents to adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation for 14 days following travel on a cruise from any international destination and any area with a significant presence of COVID-19. 

On March 24, 2020, Governor DeSantis directed all visitors entering Florida from the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into Florida or the duration of the individual’s presence in Florida, whichever is shorter. On March 27, he directed all visitors from Louisiana to do the same. This includes visitors entering Florida by roadways. Visit the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 website for the latest information on travel restrictions.

As of 12:01 a.m., June 5, 2020, persons traveling to Florida involved in commercial activity and students traveling for the purpose of academic work, internships, sports training and any other activity or program approved by the educational institution are granted an exception to Executive Orders 20-80 and 20-83. The order supersedes Executive Order 20-86.


The CDC also provides guidance on travel. More information can be found on the CDC’s Travelers page and travel FAQs page


Where can I find more information about COVID-19?

Visit the CDC’s website to learn the latest, best information on COVID-19. For statewide information, head to the Florida Department of Health’s website.


Where can I get financial help or food assistance? 

Please visit our Get Help page for community resources such as income assistance and food pantries.


What should I do if I experience price gouging?

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office has activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline. If you experience price gouging or scams related to masks or cleaning products, call 1-(866)-9NO-SCAM, or 1-866-966-7226 to file a report.


What is Pinellas County doing in response to COVID-19?

  • Our leadership is working closely with other county officials from agencies including DOH-Pinellas, law enforcement, fire & EMS and schools.
  • Our County staff is supporting the local DOH by coordinating planning, resources and response with our municipal and community partners.  
  • Our Emergency Management Department is coordinating multiple work groups to address specific needs within our community. These include: Fire & EMS, Hospitals, Community Well-being, Behavioral Health and Public Information, among others.
  • Our Planning Team is gathering and analyzing data to help county leadership and elected officials make the best-informed decisions about when and how to help life return to normal around the county.
  • Our Logistics Team is collecting, coordinating, and distributing personal protective supplies to the front-line caregivers who need it most.
  • Our Business Team is working with local businesses to identify local sources of supply for lifesaving equipment, helping our local economy and protecting our residents.
  • Our Feeding Team is collaborating with area non-profits and the Pinellas County School District to prepare and distribute hundreds of thousands of meals to children and vulnerable residents.
  • Our Live Chat Team is fielding hundreds of resident inquiries and requests for help.
  • We’ve enhanced our facility sanitation protocols to protect our employees and residents.
  • Our Marketing & Communications team is working with our departments and partners to ensure residents and businesses are connected to the resources that they need to stay safe and endure the impacts of the virus on our community. Check out the county’s FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages for daily messages on these and other important topics.

Where can I find data, maps, and GIS information regarding COVID-19?

A site has been created at https://egis.pinellas.gov/apps/COVID19/ where you can access our hub of maps and resources, including virus status, food resources, and more. In addition, a Data Dashboard site has been created that provides the best available snapshot of COVID-19 cases and testing in Pinellas County to date, as well as daily healthcare system capacity.