Governor DeSantis Signs Executive Order Eliminating and Superseding Local COVID-19 Mandates
On Monday, May 3, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order eliminating local COVID-19 restrictions. Executive Order 21-102, which is effective immediately, can be found here.
The new order places significant limitations on local governments’ COVID-19 related actions:
All local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on individuals and businesses are suspended effective immediately.
All county or municipal emergency orders or ordinances “that impose restrictions or mandates upon businesses or individuals” related to COVID-19 are eliminated.
Counties and municipalities are prohibited from renewing or enacting any emergency orders or ordinances that impose restrictions on businesses and individuals due to COVID-19.
However, the order does not affect a business’s ability to make its own determination as to face masks, social distancing or other policies for employees, guests and/or customers. In making such decisions, businesses should consider CDC guidance, vaccination rates by employees, COVID-19 positivity rates in their particular area, potential liability concerns, and physical set up of their buildings and spaces.
This order comes on the heels of the legislation from March 29, 2021 designed to provide Florida businesses and healthcare providers with substantial protections from COVID-19 related lawsuits (S.B. 72). [Previous Advisory on this topic can be found here.] Any contemplated actions a business takes pursuant to Executive Order 21-102 should take into account the provisions of S.B. 72.
As noted above, businesses should continue to closely monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance as it makes policy determinations.