Executive Order 20-112: Plan for Reopening Florida Post COVID-19 Phase 1

Florida’s governor released an executive order outlining plans to begin reopening the state. The first phase of the governor’s “Smart. Safe. Step-By-Step.” plan will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 4. Though the order will be in effect state-wide, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were placed on a different timetable than the rest of the state. These counties will follow a stricter protocol without the reopen provisions of Executive order 20-112.

Some of the significant components of the order include the limited reopening of specific businesses throughout 64 counties in Florida. For example, restaurants and retailers located outside of South Florida will be allowed to reopen at a 25% capacity for indoor areas, with full outdoor seating for restaurants, so long as diners and shoppers observe the social distancing recommendations put in place by the CDC. Salons, gyms, bars and movie theatres will remain closed. Businesses that disregard the limitations above will be subject to a second-degree misdemeanor and a fine up to $500. Penalties will be enforced by local and state law enforcement.

Elective surgeries will also be allowed to resume. Other medical services, including dental offices, orthodontic, endodontic offices and other health care practitioners’ offices, may fully re-open. Schools, however, will remain out of session for the remainder of the school year, with “distance learning” still in place. The restrictions limiting an individual’s visitation of nursing homes will also remain in place in Phase 1 of the “Safe. Smart. Step-By-Step.” plan. Prohibition on vacation rentals also remains in effect.

The Executive Order requires businesses that are allowed to reopen to continue to maintain proper sanitation measures as well as appropriate social distancing and limitations of groups to 10 or fewer. It is important to keep in mind that this Executive Order does not contain preemption on local rules. Local authorities are allowed to adopt stricter requirements for businesses, operations, or venues that are located in their district.

It is still unknown how long restrictions will remain in place for South Florida. If positive trends continue, South Florida will likely enter Phase One of the reopening plan, while other areas in other parts of the state may progress towards more lenient restrictions. We will continue to monitor the state’s reopening plan and inform our clients as updates are released.