As COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to impact Florida, Visit Tampa Bay is committed to the safety of its visitors, partners and community. We are continually monitoring the situation and compiling the most up-to-date information for our community members, industry partners, and others.

UPDATE: On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the CARES Act relief package to support individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19 and the President signed it into law.

On Thursday, March 26, Hillsborough County officials approved a 24-hour Safer-at-Home order for the county’s 1.5 million residents to limit unnecessary travel within the county. The order takes effect at 10 p.m. Friday, March 27. The order gives law enforcement officials power to enforce restrictions and penalize violators. Several other counties and cities in Florida have issued similar restrictions.

“If you have a legitimate reason to be away from home, you’re OK,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. “If not, stay home.”

The Stay-at-Home order allows people to leave home for exercise (following social distancing protocols), to visit the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor and to do work that is deemed essential under Department of Homeland Security guidelines. Essential businesses are allowed to remain open, along with those that can function under social distancing rules (maintaining a 6-foot distance between people).

Among the businesses considered essential under Homeland Security guidelines are:

  • Restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations - Carry-out and delivery food employees
  • Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers
  • Air transportation employees, including air traffic controllers and maintenance personnel, ramp workers, aviation and aerospace safety, security, and operations personnel and accident investigations
  • Hotel Workers where hotels are used for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures
  • Maritime transportation workers - port workers, mariners, equipment operators

Under the Safer-at-Home order, hotels would be allowed to continue to serve only those customers considered “essential lodgers,” including National Guard, health care workers, airline crews, medical patients, journalists, displaced persons and others.

For details about the pandemic, we recommend everyone follow the most recent information through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health.

The Florida Department of Health recommends hand-washing as the best safeguard against respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and influenza.

The CDC still emphasizes social distancing to inhibit the spread of the virus. You should also avoid contact with people who are ill, isolated yourself if you feel sick, avoid touching your face, contain any cough or sneeze and wash your hands. These measures will protect you.

On its website, the CDC notes that COVID-19 spreads in much the same way as other respiratory infections: through droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, and possibly through touching infected surfaces. Prevention and avoidance follow similar patterns to other respiratory illnesses: contain any coughs or sneezes, monitor yourself for symptoms, and stay home if you feel ill.

Visit Tampa Bay is actively monitoring COVID-19 reports from the CDC and Florida Department of Health and will pass pertinent information along to locals and travelers as It comes available via this page and social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter (@visittampabay).