OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – As the beginning of the stay-at-home order in Osceola County nears, people are wondering what does and doesn’t constitute a violation.
The decision to institute the mandate was announced Wednesday as county leaders told residents that it would begin Thursday at 11 p.m. and end April 9 at 11 p.m. The ultimate goal of the order is to reduce the likelihood of mass gatherings and ensure that people social distance in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Law enforcement officers will be tasked with dispersing groups of 10 or more and those in violation could face a fine up to $500 or even arrest, according to the sheriff.
To quell some concerns, Osceola County established a frequently asked questions page to address what will still be operating, what must shutdown and what things people can still do outside their homes.
Below is some information from that page:
Does the order apply to me?
Yes. Even if you aren’t elderly or have health problems, the order is mandatory for all Osceola County residents, including those living in Kissimmee.
Will public transit still be operating?
Lynx and SunRail will still be up and running but should only be used for essential activities or business.
What exactly are essential activities?
Going to the grocery store, getting take-out from a restaurant, going to the pharmacy, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, medical appointments and healthcare facilities are all allowed. After your business is done at any of those places, you’re asked to return home immediately. While out, be sure to practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from others.
Can I still go to work?
It depends on what you do for a living. If you work at any of the places mentioned above then you can and should go to work as long as you follow proper precautions. Osceola County also provided a list of businesses that are considered essential to everyday life and therefore allowed to continue operating:
- Healthcare providers
- Grocery store employees
- Food cultivation
- Any business to provide food, shelter, social services and necessities of life
- Hotels and motels
- Gas stations
- Auto-supply, auto-repair, towing companies
- Banks and other financial institutions
- Hardware stores
- Licensed contractors
- Businesses providing mailing and shipping services
- Laundromats and dry cleaners
- Restaurants to offer a pickup option or delivery
- Schools providing free food services to students
- Businesses that supply office products needed for anyone who works from home
- Any business selling medical equipment and supply providers
- Businesses shipping groceries or goods to residences
- Bus employees
- Home-based care for seniors adults or children
- Assisted living facilities and nursing homes
- Legal services
- Landscape and pool care business
- Childcare facilities
- Businesses operating at an airport or government facility
- Pet supply stores
- Logistics providers
- Telecommunications providers
- Providers of propane or natural gas
- Construction sites
- Architectural, engineering and land surveying services
- Factories and plants
- Waste management services
- Businesses interacting with customers solely through electronic or telephonic means
- Businesses delivering products through mail
If your job isn’t listed, plan on talking to your boss about working from home.
I miss my family and friends. Can I see them?
Unfortunately, no -- at least not in person. If your loved one has an urgent need for food or health care then of course you can visit but in-person hangouts shouldn’t be happening during the period of the order. FaceTime, phone calls, Skype and texting are always acceptable.
I think I have COVID-19. Can I go get tested?
Yes, those testing sites will be open but don’t just show up unannounced. Most testing sites require pre-screening and appointments to ensure that precious supplies aren’t wasted on someone who doesn’t actually need it. To review the criteria and see Osceola County testing sites, click here.
Can I go to the hospital?
Yes, there are no plans of closing the hospitals or denying access to anyone with a medical emergency. You shouldn’t, however, go to the emergency room for a coronavirus test. If you have a friend or family member who has been admitted to a health care facility, it’s important to note that many hospitals and assisted living centers have amended their visitor policies.
Will garbage still be picked up?
Yes. Be sure to take your trash out to the curb on your regularly scheduled day.
Will Orlando International Airport be open?
It will, but definitely don’t get in a plane if you’re feeling ill and you’re strongly advised against going to a coronavirus hot spot, including New York City. Keep in mind that the situation is fluid and you could be asked to self-isolate upon return, depending on where you go. Otherwise, the airport is open for essential travel.
Will Osceola County Parks be open?
Yes, you can still access the trails for some outdoor exercise but don’t plan on using any fitness centers. Trails and boat ramps are open but athletic fields and courts are closed.
Can I still get mail?
You can and you will. That includes USPS mail, packages from Amazon or otherwise, groceries and more.
What about exercise?
Walking, running, riding your bicycle and all outdoor exercise is allowed as long as you still practice social distancing. Gyms and fitness centers remain closed.
Can I go to the vet or take my dog for a walk?
Seeking medical care for your pets is allowed as is taking your dog for a walk, just remember to keep 6 feet away from anyone you encounter.
Will churches be open?
Yes, but the social distancing rules still apply. Many local churches have opted to provide streaming services instead of in-person worship in order to protect their congregation. Check out the list here.
What about salons and beauty shops?
You’ll need to reschedule your manicure because they’ll be closed for the duration of the order.
Those are open along with dry cleaners.
Will day cares be open?
That’s the plan. The Florida Department of Children and Families oversees the state’s day care facilities and has provided those locations with guidelines.
What about homeless people?
Osceola County officials say they’re doing their best to keep that population safe by working with their partners to expand services and by reaching out to individuals at homeless camps.
How will the order be enforced?
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will enforce the order, although deputies have noted that the ultimate goal is to keep people safe, not necessarily make arrests. That being said, violators can face a $500 fine or even jail time.
The order has left me feeling anxious and scared. Is there someone I can talk to?
That’s understandable and there are resources to help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Distress Helpline is available around the clock at 1-800-985-5990 (press "2″ for Spanish) or Text TalkWithUs to 66746. For Spanish, text Hablanos to 66746.