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:
April 29, 2020 at 8:34 pm
Hon. Governor Ron Desantis,
Under what authority has our United States Constitution been suspended?
Implied authority? Presumed authority? Codified authority? Expressed authority?
YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY! THIS IS PURE CRIMINAL USURPATION! WE ARE NOT YOUR SERVANTS!
April 29, 2020 at 8:42 pm
The previous order did not restrict the number of people who were allowed in stores that were open. For example, Publix has not been regulating the number of people who go in the store.
Do they now have to limit the number of people to 25% of capacity?
April 29, 2020 at 8:53 pm
Perhaps there is already conversation circulating regarding this…
What if I am a small restaurant owner and I partially open. One or more customers
become covid-19 infected. Tracing points directly to my business.
As the owner of the establishment who has tended to my business and customers
as safely as possible, am I legally liable? I’m guessing that my insurers will
have a problem.
I am not convinced that it is time to open from a public health perspective and, for me, a financial perspective. I run a tight ship and running at 25% capacity is a scenario that will affect my bottom line and will not be advantageous for me. For what it is worth, I have the luxury right now to keep my small staff employed. Not everyone does.
I am assuming the Governor stating that we can open with restrictions, doesn’t mean we have to. It is the choice of each business owner.
April 29, 2020 at 10:39 pm
HELP!!! I cannot get a clear answer to my concern. I have rented an Air B&B for Memorial Day weekend for my family of 8. We all live in GA. Is this still allowed under FL rules right now?
April 30, 2020 at 6:00 am
April 30, 2020 at 6:00 am
But that could change by then.
April 30, 2020 at 7:41 am
I am a Virginia resident, and I own a small home in Inlet Beach on land that has been in my family since 1950. When I am not staying there, I offer it as a short-term rental to a maximum of four people (and dogs!). Under the new order, may my spouse and I go to our home to do maintenance? We plan to bring our essentials with us and stay home for 2 weeks.
May my sister-in-law and her husband go there (they are not renting my home) for a week in late May?
April 30, 2020 at 1:42 pm
I own and manage a Vacation Rental business in Venice, FL. I understand the prohibition for short term rentals has been extended, but can there be a distinction between out of state vacationers and in state vacationers? Tourism is essential to Florida and I would think we should be allowed to provide accommodations for Florida residents looking to break the monotony of being home and maybe not working. Please give me clarification and allow us to try to remain in business. We have zero new business and over the past two months have only had calls for cancellations and deposit refunds. A total negative cash flow, and that does not include overhead. I can’t hold on much longer.
Florida Voice for the Unborn
April 30, 2020 at 2:52 pm
This new executive order permits the resumption of elective medical procedures here in Florida, as of May 4th. Even though abortions are clearly optional (i.e. “elective”), Governor Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody never sought their prohibition under the soon-to-be-expired Executive Order 20-72 (which banned all elective procedures).
Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Moody betrayed the unborn by failing to lift a finger to stop hundreds (if not thousands) of unborn babies from dying at the hands of Florida abortionists over the past month. During the emergency, other states, especially Texas, successfully banned abortions – and saved lives (both born and unborn) – by forcing abortion facilities to close, which thereby conserved precious medical resources.
Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Moody were in a position to save innocent babies from being mercilessly executed via abortion, but they chose to look the other way. Grassroots pro-lifers are rightly asking why – despite electing a pro-life governor and a pro-life attorney general – Florida nonetheless ended-up no better than states like New York and New Jersey, where radical pro-abort politicians, who are firmly in control, gave their enthusiastic approval for abortions to continue during the emergency.
Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Moody need to do some sincere soul-searching. They have innocent blood on their hands. If they think that pro-lifers will simply forget about their lack of fidelity to the unborn, they are wrong. We will not forget. Going forward, we expect our pro-life governor and pro-life attorney general to do everything in their power to save as many unborn lives as possible. Nothing less is acceptable.
Florida Voice for the Unborn is a new grassroots Tallahassee-based lobbying group that only focuses on pro-life issues impacting the unborn. It is strictly independent, and its work is guided by faith in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Florida Voice for the Unborn supports all peaceful efforts by elected officials and others to end abortion and save lives. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest @UnbornVoiceFL – and visit our website.
April 30, 2020 at 10:37 pm
You say that hair salons “should” remain closed. The order signed by the governor says in Section 4 that “In store retail sales establishments” may reopen if they do so at 1/4 building capacity. What defintion are they using for “In store retail sales”? FS 212.02 defines retail sales as ” a sale to a consumer or to any person for any purpose other than for resale in the form of tangible personal property or services taxable under this chapter”. Any thoughts?
Upstate New Yorker
May 1, 2020 at 5:23 pm
I have been researching for an answer to my question but am not finding the answer anywhere. We recently purchased a second home in Charlotte County, FL. We live in Oneida County, near the geographic center of New York State. We are about 4 hours by car from New York City. Thankfully, our county has had very few cases of Covid-19, in fact Governor Cuomo has just given the green light for elective surgeries in several counties in New York State, Oneida County being one of them. Governor DeSantis’ EO 20-82 states that people from the New York Tri State region are required to isolate/quarantine for 2 weeks, but in his remarks, he is clearly referring to residents in the New York City and surrounding areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. How can we find out if we “Upstaters” are allowed to go to Charlotte County and not quarantine?
May 1, 2020 at 7:11 pm
To enforce the 25% rule, law enforcement and code enforcement officers must know the maximum capacity assigned to each business. Thousands of restaurants in the State are in storefronts and buildings that predate the determination of occupancy loads.
In many smaller(and even larger) municipalities as well as Counties, builing permits are issued for remodels and change of use. Under these circumstances, Fire Department review may or may not be required. The Certifed Buiding Official and the Fire Department may approve the permit and certify all rquirements are met and they would probably issue statements of approval. But the permit approval–the Certificate of Occupancy–will typically not specify the maximum occupancy. So, how does a law or code enforcement officer determine if the 25% rule is being observed?
The answer, in instances of older establishments, is that it can’t be enforced based on available/existing records. Newer buildings constructed specifically for a restaurant probably do have determined maximum capacity and the number may even be posted in the establishment. Enforcement can deal with that. The older businesses with no documentation of capacity loads? Meh, doubtful.
Bottom line is the Governor signed an order that is very difficult or impossible to enforce. But that’s not unusual. I’ve worked in local goverment for 30 years, many of which required I write regulations dealing with land use issues. I have, as have many who are tasked with the same tasks, consistently deal with statutory and executive order language appears to be written by people who have no clue relative to writing regulatory language. Writing such requires understanding the intent of proposed legislation, researching associated Court determinations and knowledge of local politics.
The laws/statutes that emerge from the State Legislature more often than not appear to be wriiten by ignorant Legislative staff members or special interest groups or lobbyists. They have no clue relative to applying the Statute and they fail to thoroughly examine a proposal. All proposed regulation requires that the language considered be looked at from the front, from the rear and turned on both sides. This never happens at the State level.
The 25% rule is but one example of the failure of the Governor’s office to intellectually analyze the finer points of legislating. Par for the course!
DONNA L BRYAN
May 2, 2020 at 11:48 pm
Thank you, Peter this answered some of the questions I had
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