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July 31, 2020

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Florida Governor Issues Revised Statewide Coronavirus Mitigation Orders

On March 20, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a series of executive orders in response to the growing and evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Orders 2020-69 through 2020-72 expand the scope of Executive Order (EO) No. 2020-68, which limited the operation of bars, pubs, and nightclubs, as well as restricted gatherings at restaurants and beaches. The March 20, 2020, executive orders impose the following restrictions:

Executive Order No. 2020-69 suspends any Florida statutory requirement for an in-person quorum or local government meetings in public locations in lieu of other technological conferencing.

Executive Order No. 2020-70 requires closure of on-premises services in “all restaurants, bars, taverns, pubs, night clubs, banquet halls, cocktail lounges, cabarets, breweries, cafeterias and any other alcohol and/or food service business establishment with seating for more than ten (10) people” in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The order also closes “[a]ll movie theatres, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gymnasiums, fitness studios and beaches,” except for gymnasiums or fitness studios that are hotel amenities with a 10-person or less capacity, residential building amenities, interior to any fire station or police station, or located inside any single-occupant office building.

Executive Order No. 2020-71 supersedes EO 20-68, Section 1, and suspends sale of alcoholic beverages on premises. The order also supersedes EO 20-68, Sections 3(A) and (B), and suspends all licensed restaurants and food establishments from offering on-premises food consumption for customers, though “such establishments may operate their kitchens for the purpose of providing delivery or take-out services.” The order closes gymnasiums and fitness centers (except as excluded in EO 2020-70) and authorizes the enforcement and implementation of its provisions by state and local law enforcement and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Executive Order No. 2020-72 suspends all “‘non-essential’ elective medical and surgical procedures, including dental procedures.” This order extends to all healthcare practitioners licensed in the State of Florida, including dentists. The order authorizes the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health to enforce and implement the order’s provisions. EO No. 2020-72 expires upon the expiration of EO 20-52.

On March 23, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order No. 2020-80, ordering all individuals traveling into Florida from areas with substantial coronavirus community spread, including the New York Tri-State area, through airports to quarantine for 14 days or for the duration of their stay in Florida, if shorter. This order does not apply to airline employees or military, emergency, or health personnel. EO 20-80 authorizes the enforcement and implementation of its provisions by the Florida Department of Health; the Florida Division of Emergency Management; each aviation and airport authority in Florida; county and local governments; and law enforcement agencies. A violation of this order is a misdemeanor in the second degree punishable by imprisonment up to 60 days, a fine up to $500, or both.

As of March 24, 2020, Florida had not yet joined the ever-growing list of states restricting all nonessential businesses. Still, based on the state’s current executive orders, many businesses are facing mandatory temporary shutdowns, which present challenges.

The current orders do not apply to “grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and convenience stores except [for] those discrete portions of such establishments that provide alcohol and/or food service with seating for more than ten (10) people”; delivery, pick-up, or takeout services; or restaurants ancillary to essential services, including airports, port and secure facilities, and hospitals. These business can still operate.

Still, the orders clarify that municipalities may impose stricter standards within their jurisdictions. Broward and Palm Beach County administrators, for example, may further enforce, relax, modify, or remove these closures pursuant to EO 20-68. Several Miami-Dade County cities, including Miami Beach and Sunny Isles, have issued stay-at-home orders. On March 25, 2020, Pinellas County passed Resolution No. 20-20, the “‘COVID-19 – Safer At Home’ Order,” limiting nonessential activity and/or transportation, closing places of public assembly, ordering compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for places and entities conducting public and private gatherings, and ordering businesses to comply with CDC guidelines and post notices outlining these guidelines and how to report violations. On March 26, 2020, Hillsborough County passed a similar order, encouraging residents to remain at their principal places of residence unless engaging in essential services or necessary activities.

EO 2020-70, the primary order limiting business operations, expires on March 31, 2020, with a possibility for renewal. As Governor DeSantis’s orders and guidance change, we will provide updates as needed.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 87

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About this Author

Admitted to Practice

Sarah Kuehnel has devoted her entire career to providing litigation and counseling services to employers. She represents clients in all areas of employment law, including:

  • Class and collective actions
  • Employment discrimination and retaliation
  • Government agency investigations and subpoenas
  • Harassment investigations
  • Reasonable accommodations and the interactive process
  • Unemployment
  • ...
314-802-3951
Karen E. Smeda Associate Tampa Employment Law
Associate

Karen Smeda focuses her practice on representing and counseling employers in labor and employment law matters. Ms. Smeda developed her interest in labor and employment law while working as residential staff for the West Campus Housing System, where she became familiar with the policies and procedures used by large employers, like Cornell University. She also worked as a 2L law clerk for the U.S. Department of Labor during the summer of 2017.

Ms. Smeda graduated from Cornell Law School in 2018. During law school, she served as the Senior Notes Editor for the Cornell International Law Journal, a Managing Editor for the LII Supreme Court Bulletin, and on the Moot Court Board. She also participated as a member of Martha Pollack’s Presidential Task Force, serving on a sub-committee informing Cornell University’s response to hate speech and harassment on campus. Ms. Smeda graduated from the University of Florida summa cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Criminology in 2012. She also graduated from Cornell University with an M.A. in Human Development in February 2016.

As the daughter of two Ecuadorian parents, Karen is a native Spanish speaker.

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