Florida’s restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to reopen Monday at 25% capacity, if the local government allows it, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday, as the state begins the slow climb from the economic abyss caused by the coronavirus.
The Governor specifically excluded hard-hit, heavily populated Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, saying their businesses will begin phase one when it is safer.
Here are answers to frequently asked questions of the Governor’s Office:
When did the Governor’s Executive Order take effect? How long does it last?
The Governor’s Executive Order takes effect at 12:01 a.m., Monday, May 4, and lasts until the Governor issues a subsequent order.
Is the “Safer at Home” Order over?
The Governor’s Executive Order 20-91, Essential Services and Activities is extended until 12:01 a.m. Monday, May 4, by Executive Order 20-111. At that point, Executive Order 20-112 will maintain limitations on the movements of persons except for those businesses and services that are currently open and those businesses that re-open at 25% building occupancy.
Does this order apply to all Florida counties?
This order is in effect statewide, however, in coordination with Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach county mayors, these three counties will follow stricter protocol without the re-open provisions of Executive Order 20-112.
Is the Governor’s Executive Order consistent with the President’s Opening Up America Again Plan?
Governor DeSantis met with President Donald Trump on April 28 to discuss this plan and the President was very supportive of Florida’s efforts to take a safe, smart, step-by-step approach to re-open Florida. See President Trump’s guidance here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/.
Does this Executive Order supersede local law?
The Governor’s Executive Order 20-91 limiting the movements of persons has been incorporated and modified in the new Executive Order 20-112 to include businesses currently open and certain businesses re-opening at 25% building occupancy. The Governor’s Executive Orders do not contain a preemption on local rules where those rules restrict or close businesses or buildings.
When can we expect Phase 2 to start?
Once the Governor determines it is suitable to continue re-opening and after fully considering medical data in consultation with state health officials.
Can I go to my doctor if it’s not COVID-19 related?
Medical services, including elective procedures, surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental offices, orthodontic offices, endodontic office and other health care practitioners offices may fully re-open. As a condition of resuming elective procedures, hospitals will be required to assist nursing homes and long-term care facilities in their efforts to protect the vulnerable.
However, they must maintain adequate bed capacity and PPE. They must also have the capacity to immediately convert additional surgical and intensive care beds in a surge situation and must not have received or sought any additional federal, state or local government assistance regarding PPE after resuming elective procedures.
May senior citizens and individuals with significant medical conditions leave their homes to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, or go for a walk, or go to work?
Yes, they may leave their homes to obtain or provide open services or conduct open activities.
Can individuals visit nursing homes and long-term care facilities?
No, those restrictions will remain in place in Phase 1 of the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery and with conditions set by the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Is airport screening and isolation in effect for visitors from highly affected COVID-19 areas?
Yes, this order extends Executive Order 20-80, Airport Screening and Isolation, and Executive Order 20-82, Isolation of Individuals traveling to Florida, with exceptions for military, emergency, health, infrastructure or commercial related activity.
Can I open my business?
Restaurants will be allowed to re-open, with full outdoor seating. Indoor seating will be allowed at 25 percent of building capacity. On-site sale and retail businesses will be allowed to operate at 25 percent occupancy.
If your business is open, it may remain open and should continue appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures. Also, any activity or work that has been available under the previous order remains available. Businesses should adopt appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures.
What businesses will remain closed?
Bars, nightclubs and gyms will remain closed during Phase 1 of re-opening. While personal care services such as barbershops and salons with close contact should remain closed, the portions of those businesses with on-site retail sales may re-open at 25% building occupancy.
May my business and its employees continue to operate remotely and provide delivery of our product?
Yes, all businesses are encouraged to provide delivery or pickup and to take orders online or by telephone.
Are there minimum health protocols that must be met to open my business?
Yes, the Governor’s Executive Order 20-112 requires appropriate social distancing and limits groups to 10 people or fewer. Regulated businesses should adhere to agency guidance. Additionally, businesses should consult with the most up-to-date Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
What do I need to do to open my business?
Review the requirements of the Governor’s Executive Order 20-112. Also review any guidance that has been provided from state and federal regulatory agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Do employee temperature checks need to be done?
For restaurants, employee protocols remain in place under the Governor’s Executive Order. Other businesses should adopt appropriate measures based on CDC guidance.
Are masks required for employees and customers?
The Governor’s Executive Order does not mandate the use of masks. However, customers, employees and employers should consult CDC guidance.
If a business exceeds 25% capacity, does it get fined?
Yes, enforcement penalties remain in place including a second-degree misdemeanor with a fine up to $500. Certain regulated businesses may face enforcement action for violations from their regulatory agency.
Should individuals go to facilities that have not re-opened?
Individuals should travel only to businesses that have been open or are now re-opened.
Who enforces compliance?
Local and state law enforcement continue to enforce Executive Orders, along with the regulatory agencies that oversee businesses.
Can I visit or travel to a family member?
Yes, if caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend.
May I exercise outside or participate in recreational activities?
Yes, if consistent with social distancing guidelines as published by the CDC.
Are gyms open?
No, gyms and fitness centers should remain closed.
Can I go to a professional sporting event?
No, sporting venues may operate but without spectators.
May churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship hold services?
Yes. The Governor’s Executive Order 20-91 identified attending religious services at churches, synagogues and places of worship as an open activity. While that order did not place restrictions directly on any building or venue, many local orders have done so. Any building or venue that is open should continue to follow appropriate social distancing and sanitation procedures.
The Florida Department of Health encourages them to follow CDC guidance specific to faith organizations.
Can I rent or stay at a vacation rental?
No, the prohibition on vacation rentals remains in effect.
Are state parks and beaches open?
The Governor’s Executive Orders have not closed beaches other than those at the request of Broward and Palm Beach counties (Executive Order 20-90). Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection will announce a phased-in re-opening of state parks.
May childcare centers remain open?
Yes, if currently able to open and as long as they follow proper social distancing protocols. Florida Department of Education has prioritized children of medical professionals and first responders working at businesses or operations that are essential services, to the extent those childcare centers adhere to social distancing.
Are museums and libraries open?
Museums and libraries may open at no more than 25% of their building occupancy as long as their local government allows. Interactive shared exhibits, like child play areas, remain closed.
LOCAL GOVERNANCE & ENFORCEMENT
Are local authorities allowed to adopt requirements directly on businesses, operations or venues, including buildings, beaches and parks, that may be stricter than the Governor’s Executive Order?
How is the Governor’s Executive Order enforced?
By law enforcement. Violation of the Governor’s Executive Order is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Where can I report a business that violates the Governor’s Executive Order?
Local law enforcement.
Do I need a special permit to leave my house if I am going to an essential service or essential activity?
No. Some businesses may wish to provide a letter to employees to clarify that their business is indeed an open service.
Here is the official executive order from the Governor’s Office: