Gov. Ron DeSantis issues stay-at-home order for Florida

The order begins Friday morning.

After resisting calls to order Floridians to stay indoors, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday issued a stay-at-home order directing Floridians to stay home except for essential trips.

The order begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

The announcement comes one month after the state reported its first coronavirus case and just one day after the Governor held a press conference to defend his decision to leave it to local jurisdictions to decide on restrictions for their own communities.

The move also comes the day after Department of Health officials reported more than 1,000 new cases in 24 hours, along with 14 new fatalities. Still, DeSantis resisted using the words “stay-at-home order” in his Wednesday address in front of cameras.

DeSantis had previously pointed to the uneven distribution of infections across the state and low overall infection rate as reasons to not issue a statewide order, as well as the inevitable non-compliance. But he changed his tune Wednesday.

“At this point, I think even though there’s a lot of places in Florida that have very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now,” he said.

The Governor cited President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory to maintain social distancing through April 30, calling it a signal to shut down the state.

“When the President did the 30-day extension, to me, that was (saying) people aren’t just going to go back to work,” he said. “That’s a national pause button.”

On Wednesday morning’s “Today” show, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams stopped short of saying DeSantis should reverse course and issue a statewide mandate, but he made clear that federal intent was for people to stay at home to flatten the curve of coronavirus transmissions.

“Governors have tough choices to make,” he said. “They have to decide whether or not they feel like their citizens will listen to them without a stay-at-home order.”

The evening before, DeSantis said the White House task force had not recommended to him that he issue a blanket stay-at-home order.

“If they do, that’s something that would carry a lot of weight with me,” he said of a possible task force recommendation Tuesday.

Floridians will only be allowed outside for essential services until April 30. Examples of essential activities listed in the executive order include attending religious services, taking care of pets and caring for a loved one or friend.

The list of those services is based on a compilation made by Miami-Dade County and Mayor Carlos Giménez. Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees will be able to add essential services as needed.

County sheriffs will be able to enforce the order with threat of criminal charges, but DeSantis said not everyone out doing something nonessential will necessarily be arrested or subjected to a criminal penalty.

“At some point, you do need to just exercise good judgment,” he said. “The government can’t ham-fist everyone into their bedroom. That’s just not practical.”

The order also reiterates that seniors and people with underlying health conditions should stay home for their own protection. It lists lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, a compromised immune system, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease as underlying conditions.

With the order now issued, Democrats — who were in lockstep in arguing for a safer-at-home order — had diverging reactions to the executive order. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and others claimed victory while Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo found it “distressing” DeSantis waited to issue it.

A model cited by the Trump administration suggests Florida could see 6,937 deaths by August.

The latest report from the Department of Health shows 6,955 coronavirus cases involving the state, including 6,694 Floridians and 87 deaths.

On Monday, DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order impacting four counties in South Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, the three that have been hit the hardest.

Here is the official order from the Governor’s Office:

Florida Politics reporter Sarah Mueller contributed to this report.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Linda Dixon

    April 1, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    There’s absolutely nothing victorious about any of this. Folks on the left care more about their personal feelings towards Trump and their effort to Impeach, accuse, resist him; they resent DeSantis and Republicans. They care more about the above than they do Americans & Floridians who are suffering, dying, and losing loved ones every single day. Their actions prove this as do their words. They were willing to destroy a current Justice’s life and family in the name of abortion by accusing him of gang rape. They spied and investigated based on false accusation and information in an attempt to oust this Pres. via a coup using FBI/Intell. under Obama. They’ve called for Pres. Impeachment from the day he was inaugurated and attempted to do so in an effort to have him removed from the ’20 ballot. Please wake up folks!

    • Dana

      April 1, 2020 at 4:22 pm

      I don’t know what you are talking about here. This is not about Trump or partisan politics. We are in the middle of a global pandemic.

      Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a statewide stay-at-home order today after the number of coronavirus cases in our state rose to nearly 7,000 and included 85 deaths.
      Why it matters: DeSantis has been criticized for declining to order any statewide mandates to curb the spread of the coronavirus even as Florida — home to a significant elderly population — has increasingly becoming a hotspot. The order goes into effect Thursday at midnight and last for 30 days. He has been in touch with the White House coronavirus task force who was giving him their recommendation before acting.

      Please try to stop blaming Democrats & try to remember we are all in this together. It’s time we bring the country together and strive for unity over division. Enough of this crap! We need to put aside our political beliefs and come through this nightmare as a nation.

    • Dana

      April 1, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      Be well & stay safe.

  • First fruit ~ J

    April 1, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad. Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

    -Send me Lord, send me….

  • Anonymous

    April 2, 2020 at 8:08 am

    It’s a joke ,many still working under the umbrella of “essential business. For example, workers in ornamental nurseries have to work because they are considered agricultural and “essential”, but they plant flowers! Companies don’t think that behind one worker there is an entire family that could be infested by the virus! And please it isn’t a partisan comment. We need together to stop the pandemic beside political points of views

  • Sonja Fitch

    April 2, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    Arrest desantis for deliberate indifference. Yes that is a legal term. Yes desantis is guilty.

  • Demian Miller

    April 2, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    I’m certain DeSantis’s Order targeting religious zealots for infection will be further amended to clarify that those who contract COVID-19 in places of worship shall be barred from Florida’s science-based hospitals and instead shall receive faith-based healing.

  • Chad Lee

    April 3, 2020 at 11:29 pm

    We have a stay at home order and many people out of work and money and to make matters worse, a completely non-functional unemployment website and phone lines to file for benefits. As of now, unemployment benefits in Florida is not even a real thing because no one can register for them. This really sucks.

Comments are closed.


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