Florida Joins Long List of States Imposing Restrictions “To Slow the Spread” of the COVID-19 Virus
Florida is one of many states which have now issued state-wide stay at home orders. Mayer Brown’s Essential Business Team is addressing and will synthesize on our upcoming Essential Business Tracker.
On April 1, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-91, limiting workers, citizens, and others in the state to “essential services and activities during [the] COVID-19 emergency.” The Order reflects growing concerns about the spread of the virus; although several populous counties had previously issued similar orders, Governor DeSantis had not imposed a statewide order. The new statewide order will be effective through April 30, 2020 (unless extended by a subsequent order).
The order makes clear that Floridians are safer at home. Therefore, it requires that “all persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.” In addition to traveling to/from work as necessary to provide essential services, the order defines other “essential activities” as attending religious services, participating in recreational activities, caring for pets, and “caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or a friend.”
As noted above, Florida’s new order permits workers who provide “essential services” to continue working—and for such businesses to continue their operations. The order defines “essential services” by incorporating the “detailed [list provided] by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, v.2 (March 28, 2020) . . . and any subsequent lists published.” In conjunction with the Executive Order, the DHS list, which is generally referred to as the “CISA Guidance” (and is attached to the Executive Order and linked here), excludes a series of industry sectors from the order’s restrictions. For instance, Critical Manufacturing, Communications and IT, the Defense Industrial Base, Energy, and Financial Services are all deemed “essential” under the Guidance.
The order reiterated the governor’s previous “urging those who can work remotely to do so” and the President’s and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “guidance advising individuals to adopt far-reaching social distancing measures.” Presumably companies providing essential services in Florida already are operating under those guidelines; the order does not further restrict those operations.
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