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Guidance for Businesses as Florida Moves to Phase 3 Re-opening

On Friday, September 25, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-244 as a part of the state’s phase 3 re-opening. The Order states that “No COVID-19 emergency ordinance may prevent an individual from working or from operating a business.” As a result, a local government (county or city) may NOT prohibit a business from operating solely for COVID-19 reasons.

The Order also:

1. Effectively provides that restaurants can operate with no seating capacity limitations and without any other COVID-19-related restrictions on hours of operation, service of alcohol, or occupancy. If a local government issues an order that does further limit capacity, it must do so only with evidence of the economic impact to the business and how the limitation is necessary for public health.

2. Suspends any local COVID-related fines and penalties as to any individuals.

What the Order does NOT change:

1. The Order does not eliminate any local face mask orders that are in place. Those local face mask orders remain in place unless they are changed by the city or county.

2. The Order does not mean a business should discard its COVID-19 Response Plan, but should review and revise, as warranted. It is important that you continue to review local COVID-19 orders from your city and county regarding emergency orders, including the wearing of face masks (Hillsborough County Order; Pinellas County Order; City of Tampa Order; City of St. Petersburg Order; Pasco County Order) . Some of the local orders have unique provisions that allow for local governments to enforce the order against businesses – and those provisions would remain in effect even with the state Order 20-244. For example, the City of Tampa order mandates businesses to implement minimum “reasonable efforts” to require customers to wear face masks on their premises.

As a reminder, your response plan/written action plan should:

1. Address state and local governments’ expectations of your business.

2. Address the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol specific to your industry.

3. Include your business’s policies and procedures.

4. Be communicated to and posted where it’s easily accessible by employees and customers. 5. Notify employees that if they have symptoms they are not to come to work.

© 2007-2022 Hill Ward Henderson, All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 273

About this Author

Katherine E. Cole Land Use and Real Estate Lawyer Hill Ward Henderson

Katie is a Shareholder in the firm’s Land Use and Real Estate Group. Her practice primarily involves representing real estate owners in the development of commercial projects and residential subdivisions throughout Pinellas & Pasco Counties. Katie serves clients from the firm’s Clearwater office.

She handles development issues for clients including land use plan amendments, zoning map amendments, planned developments, local government site plan approvals, drafting development agreements, negotiating resolutions for Code Enforcement cases, environmental permitting at the local...

 Kamala E. Corbett  Land Use and Real Estate Lawyer Hill Ward Henderson

Kami is a Shareholder in the firm’s Land Use and Real Estate Group. 

She has extensive experience in the areas of land use, comprehensive planning, annexation, Developments of Regional Impact (DRI),  zoning , variances, tree removal permits, design exceptions, subdivisions, sign permitting, alcoholic beverage permitting, concurrency agreements, development agreements and all aspects of governmental permitting, including stormwater and environmental permitting.  In addition to her land use practice, Kami also has experience with matters relating to, real...

Robert A. Shimberg Commercial Litigation Attorney Hill Ward Henderson

Robert is a Shareholder in the firm's Litigation Group. His primary practice areas include commercial litigation, corporate compliance, cybersecurity, governmental relations and corporate investigations. He was formerly a prosecutor with the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office.

Robert has provided compliance-related services and training to over 300 businesses around the country. He has defended businesses against consumer claims, class action lawsuits, and provided representation in connection with government agency inquiries and investigations and...

Jaime R. Maier Land Use and Real Estate Attorney Hill Ward Henderson

Jaime is an associate in the firm’s Land Use and Real Estate group. She serves clients from both the Tampa and Clearwater offices.

Jaime graduated in the top ten percent of her class at UCLA School of Law, and was elected for membership in the Order of the Coif. She was a six-time recipient of the Masin Family Academic Excellence Gold Award, which is awarded to students who achieve the highest grade in a competitive law school class. She received this award in Contracts, Constitutional Law, Taxation of Business Enterprises, Professional Responsibility, Business Bankruptcy, and...