'People absolutely need to stay home:’ Seminole County leaders work to clear up confusion on social distancing order

Order affects businesses, large gatherings

Social distancing order to go into effect for Seminole County

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County leaders held a news conference Monday to provide residents with an update on the current social distancing order.

The ordinance, which had only been in effect for a few hours, had already prompted five calls for service by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve seen a handful of calls, maybe five or six, from citizens that identified businesses that need to make modifications,” Sheriff Dennis Lemma said Monday.

Lima said two of those calls resulted in warnings, the other instances were businesses exempt from the ordinance. He said deputies still used the opportunity to educate the businesses on how to implement better practices when trying to abide by the Central for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“We will absolutely cite business for not complying with this executive order,” Lemma warned.

The guidelines, which implore people to put six feet of separation between one another and advise individuals to limit contact with one another, are the foundation of the county-wide social distancing order.

The ordinance mandates that no gatherings with 10 or more people take place and enforces the six-feet separation between individuals to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Businesses are also required to limit occupancy to 30% of the maximum allowable capacity under the fire code and promote social distancing.

[RELATED: Here’s what you need to know about Seminole County’s social distancing order]

Something as simple as directing traffic in a grocery aisle could help reduce the spread,” Lemma said about grocery stores following the new mandate.

He said essential businesses like grocery stores have done a decent job of separating patrons with stickers or tape on the floor and by notifying customers at the entrance with signs.

When asked about salons and nail services still operating, Lemma said they are not exempt.

“Salons and tattoo shops should not be operating,” he said. “If they are absolutely touching people, that’s a clear violation.”

Law enforcement within the county has been prompted to enforce the order with warnings and then a $500 fine for businesses or people who are caught violating the ordinance.

Lemma said with school resource officers no longer on campus and court deputies now available, the Sheriff’s Office is fully staffed to patrol areas and educate the community about the order, saying they will not hesitate to enforce it.

“The likelihood of this virus being out and about on people who have never been tested is probably very likely,” he said. "The only way to help our neighbor right now is to not go out and help our neighbor.”

As of Monday morning, the county had reported more than 80 confirmed coronavirus cases.