Osceola County enacted a “Stay at Home” order Wednesday that will last for two weeks starting 11 p.m. Thursday in an attempt to combat the rise in coronavirus cases.
Osceola County’s emergency decision-making policy group approved the order for all non-essential retail and commercial businesses to close -- and for all residents to stay home from non-essential travel in order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
This order will take effect at 11 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, and will continue for two weeks until April 9 at 11 p.m. The order means that the entirety of Osceola County is ordered to stay at home as much as possible, with exceptions for businesses and travel deemed “essential.”
In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, all Osceola County residents are ordered to limit travel to essential trips only and to stay at home as much as possible.
"We believe the stay at home order is the most effective means to combat the spread of the virus," said Osceola County Chairwoman Viviana Janer.
Businesses that are not considered essential are most retail, entertainment businesses, including movie theaters, bowling alleys, clothing stores, and shopping malls. All must cease operations no later than Thursday, March 26, at 11 p.m.
This means residents should stay at home, unless it is absolutely necessary. Residents will still be allowed to shop for groceries, go to a doctor’s appointment, provide necessary care for a family member or pets, visit restaurants for takeout orders and go outside to walk a dog or get some exercise, but you must keep 6 feet between yourself and others.
Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said violating this order is a misdemeanor. But the plan is to educate the public first before citing or arresting anyone.
"Our deputies are going to use the utmost discretion in how we implement this," Gibson said.
Osceola County urges all residents to continue monitoring their personal health and the health of their families, practice social distancing and self-quarantine for 14 days.
Here are frequently asked questions about the order:
When does the order go into effect and when will it expire?
The Order takes effect Thursday, March 26 at 11 p.m. The order ends on Thursday, April 9 at 11 p.m.
To whom does this order apply?
The order applies to all individuals within Osceola County. Unless you work for an essential business or are doing an essential activity, you must stay home. The order is mandatory. Osceola County residents must stay home and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
What are considered “essential” businesses or activities?
Individuals can travel to and from grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, doctor’s offices and healthcare facilities. However, once these locations have been visited, residents need to go home. While inside these businesses, continue practicing social distancing. Try to stand 6 feet back from other customers in checkout lines, and continue good handwashing practices and using hand sanitizer before and after your trip.
The order details the difference between what is considered non-essential businesses and essential businesses. For example, financial intuitions, hardware stores, government workers, licensed contractors, the media, etc. are considered essential.
Garbage pickup and public transit are also considered essential and will continue normal operations.
How will the order be enforced?
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will enforce the order. The Sheriff’s Office does not intend to use the order as a mechanism for making arrests. The purpose of the order is to get residents in the right frame of mind to act responsibly for their health and the health of their families by staying in their homes whenever possible. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will respond to reported violations of the order.
Will restaurants still be able to deliver or provide carryout service?
Yes, restaurants can continue to provide takeout and delivery services. You cannot dine in at a restaurant. Continue practicing social distancing if you visit these establishments for their carryout services.
Am I able to visit my friends and family?
You should not visit family or friends unless there is an urgent need (e.g., providing food, caretaking, medical reasons, etc.). Otherwise, stay at home. Continue to check on your loved ones electronically – by phone, text, FaceTime, email, etc.
What about doctor’s appointments?
Yes. Individuals are permitted to travel to and from their healthcare provider.
Will I be able to visit COVID-19 Testing Centers?
Yes, but be aware of the qualifications for considerations for testing. For information on testing center criteria and information, visit https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/.
Will hospitals still be open?
Yes. Hospitals are considered essential business, and residents are permitted to travel to and from local health facilities. However, you should not go to an ER for a COVID-19 test. An ER should only be used for medical emergencies. An influx of unnecessary patients to an ER will overwhelm our hospital systems, and put healthcare workers and other patients at risk.
Will Osceola County parks be open?
Yes. The open-space areas in Osceola County parks are open, along with our trails and boat ramps. Athletic fields and courts are closed.
Is it permitted to drive to the airport?
Yes. This is considered essential business, but only for essential travel.
Will grocery stores and pharmacies still be open?
Yes. Groceries and pharmacies are considered essential business.
Will hotels be open?
Will I still be able to receive mail and online orders?
Yes, you will still be able receive USPS mail, packages, get groceries delivered and get meals delivered.
Will public transit, such as LYNX and SunRail, be available?
Public transportation will continue to operate but should only be used for essential travel.
Will garbage services still be provided?
Yes. Garbage pickup is essential business and will continue normal operations.
Will the Orlando International Airport still be open?
Yes. The Orlando International Airport will continue to be open, and essential travel is permitted.
May I take my pets to the vet or my dog for a walk?
Yes. You can seek medical care for your pets should they require it. And you can walk your dog outside. Practice social distancing while you are outside, and try and stay 6 feet away from other neighbors and their pets.
Am I able to exercise?
Yes. You can run, walk and ride your bike outside. Outdoor exercise is acceptable. However, gyms and fitness centers will remain closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While exercising outside, you still should practice social distancing by running or walking at least 6 feet away from other people.
What about the homeless?
Osceola County Government is working with its partners to expand its services and be flexible with funding to address the homeless population. For example, one of our partners is reaching out to homeless camps asking and providing information to individuals there. Partners are working closely with camps and providing information to keep them safe.
Are my kids able to play at parks?
Families will be able to go outside and take a walk, run or bike ride, but they should continue to practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet away from other people.
Will churches and places of worship be open?
Yes. However, religious leaders are encouraged to fully comply with all measures advised by the CDC, including limiting gatherings to not more than ten (10) people and practicing social distancing of at least six (6) feet between persons. Religious leaders are also encouraging to use online streaming services, if available.
Will laundromats be open?
Yes. Laundromats are considered essential business and will remain open.
Will salons and beauty shops be open?
No. These businesses will be closed during the order.
Will daycares continue to operate?
Yes, the Florida Department of Children and Families is the regulatory agency for childcare facilities. DCF has provided all licensed childcare facilities CDC guidelines as well as specific K-12 guidelines. The agency is also surveying to assess all closure tracking.
I am feeling anxious and scared about the order. Who can I talk to?
As the world continues to deal with COVID-19 and its impact on our families and friends, many of us will deal with some level of stress and anxiety. Among the resources available to assist us manage our anxiety is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Distress Helpline, providing 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.
To connect with a trained crisis counselor: Call 1-800-985-5990 (press "2" for Spanish) Text TalkWithUs to 66746
Call 1-800-985-5990 and press "2" From the U.S., text Hablanos to 66746