Policy via Zoom: Local governments can still hold virtual meetings under Governor’s reopening order

city council tallahassee
The order was set to expire May 8.

Local governments will still be able to meet telephonically when the first phase of the state’s reopening begins Monday.

The Florida Constitution and Sunshine laws require local governments meet in person, but Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended that requirement last month to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Under the reopening plan, announced Wednesday, local governments will still be able to meet remotely, at least through phase one.

The Governor implemented the executive order after the federal government suggested people avoid groups of 10 or more people. After consulting Attorney General Ashley Moody, he lifted the requirement with a March 20 order (Executive Order 20-69).

That order was tied to the public health emergency declaration, which continues through May 8. Phase one of the reopening (Executive Order 20-112) does not have an end date, but DeSantis told reporters Wednesday he hopes it’s a matter of weeks rather than months until the state enters phase two.

Prior to the original order allowing remote meetings through conference calls or videoconferencing, multiple county and local government bodies had contacted the Governor’s Office with concerns about meeting in person during the pandemic.

If the Legislature enters a Special Session, lawmakers will need to meet face-to-face in Tallahassee, per the state constitution.

Under the new order, public museums and libraries may operate at 25% capacity if allowed by local governments. However, interactive exhibits and child play areas must remain closed for the duration of the order.

Phase one of the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” reopening plan also extends bar, gym and vacation rental closures and travel limitations from the New York City and New Orleans areas. Restaurant dining rooms and retail stores can reopen with 25% capacity under the order.

If Florida continues to see a declining number of new COVID-19 cases and hospital visits for the disease’s major symptoms, the state could begin phase two of its reopening, according to the White House’s “Opening Up America Again” template.

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.


One comment

  • Margaret A Blustine

    April 30, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    Theres no flattening curve.theres not even 3 consecutive days declining never mind fedl.14 declining
    Fla cases see saw as reported numbers lower thanshoot way hugh next day.riged.no tourists wil come to flawith sti 500 too 700 or more newcases.way too many not known.flights take temps cant id thousands carrirs daily stil coming fla.ny still.dont quarantine no enforcement tracing done.political and economic suicide open wa too early. 500 too 700 plus cases stil way too high to unleash monster virus in.busineses.shortsighted bsines fast income then total.colapse for yrs as week.after week to infinity workers surge gt sick
    Smithfield and yson so many working age sick hav close.what will happen small busines. Crash flat. No tourists wil come to fla with 50 to 700 plus still and wil be 6 times that by june to infinity.lockdown many countries and states prove only what works.6 ft not good enough
    Nw gyms hotels cose qarters peple tuchig sweating infecting. Is insane as way too early. Way too many at 1 time. Just beaches dine outside estaurants only. Even that virus in 3 eeks wil.be impossible to contain
    Sates smart ovrnors still strict not fake ockdown will getceconomy back.not florida. Fla is onfst ack out of control italy not lockdow as fla should
    No tourists will come with fla still high numbers novwhere near time open.s not flatened. What appened miami now treasure coast same rack ent 4 cases to almost 500.and climbing on teasure cost n ² weeks. Lasr tourist hope and startg jax down de santis destroying tourist economy nw for years.ermuda bahamas etc.nobody come here.if did eal ockdown march 13 like eal flattening states fla would by june open ok.not nownanother mistake.too little restrictions by de santis is what caused fla be 1 of 5th worst epicentrs in america and is heding for disastr fast
    Useless numbrs soken in ashington by brainwshed de santis bybincompetent trump who caused america hav over 30 pr cent cases of all total countries and still increasing. De santis doing same now to fla. Too loose estrictions just like what trump did to amrica.saying hot eathr will killnit.lie.saying is under control in march
    Dadly huge lie.telling people who know ingesting sanitizrs could kill it who knows was an idiot unaware some stupid people believe him
    Fla hates trump.now.soon de santis too as opening so much phase 1 economic political sucide as way too much to evr contain surges coming from doing that
    Somkorea strict lockdown.only thing works. Not knowing carriers now going everywhere infecting a million by june. Out of control.trump.elderly elected trump.and de santis.now de santiskillingbthem long b4 november.workers at large warehouses plants so many sick they close.virus is hittg workg age in usa hard. Bad diet here. No way possible openingwhat phase 1 does wont end in a complete diaster. 6 ft doednt work
    Flamostly stayed in. Now will be moving all over state infections surging like italy.definitely will be italy.certainly not sucessful oor like so korea.now data shows people getf reinfected other countries.why doednt a reporter like you please print realfacts getvto de santis.seemed to hav a brain bsck a little then saw trump.brsinwashed gave spedch irrelevant data and totally conned by trumpbyet again.seaty gyms dine in drinking restaursnts etc. Fla total fconomic snd political collapseby june out of controlvspreading.no econojybfor sevl yrs.de santis needs do strict lockdown 4 weeks. Then seecwhere numbrs ar.stupud stupid opening now.lok at jax numbers today????

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