Florida Announces Phase One of Reopening Plan

May 1, 2020Alerts

On April 29, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-112 which set forth Phase One of his “Safe, Smart, Step by Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery.” Phase One of this plan, effective Monday, May 4, permits certain Florida businesses to reopen with reduced capacity. Here’s what you need to know:

First, the most populous counties in Florida ― Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami/Dade ― are exempt from Order 20-112 and will remain “closed” except for essential businesses.

Second, while the rest of Florida will slowly reopen, many statewide restrictions remain in place, including:

  • Keeping schools closed
  • Keeping bars, gyms, spas and salons closed
  • Keeping visitors away from nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • Limiting nonessential travel
  • Continuing the prior vacation rental ban.

Beginning on May 4, the following activities can resume in the vast majority of Florida, except in counties that extend their Safer at Home Orders:

  • Elective surgeries
  • Restaurants are permitted to open for dining in with 25% capacity indoors and outdoor seating with six-foot social distancing and parties restricted to 10 people or fewer.
  • Retail stores, museums and libraries may open at 25% indoor capacity.

Additionally, Gov. DeSantis encourages all Floridians to stay home and obey six-foot social distancing rules while in public. Also, senior citizens and Floridians with underlying chronic illnesses are “strongly” encouraged to stay home.

There is no statewide mask or face covering requirement although certain Florida counties do require this.

Next Steps

Florida’s Phase Two has not been finalized, but is likely to permit:

  • Nonessential travel
  • Plans for people to return to work at nonessential businesses
  • Casinos, gyms, hair salons, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen with 75% capacity
  • Bars to reopen with 50% capacity, and restaurants to increase to 75% capacity.

State documents also show that the Task Force is recommending the resumption of local government meetings with no more than 50 people in attendance, but videoconferencing would still be permitted.

Reopening Florida theme parks, such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios will be considered during Phase Two with capacity limits and strict social distancing in place, as well as sustained efforts to disinfect.

As for Florida vacation rentals, the Task Force wants restrictions in Phase Two that would only allow property owners to rent to people from Florida. Property owners would not be permitted to rent to out-of-state or international travelers.

Under Phase Two, Florida beaches could be fully open and school and youth activities, such as summer camps, can reopen. Sporting events could also resume with half-capacity.

For more information about this workplace topic or alert, please contact Dori Stibolt in the firm's West Palm Beach office at 561.804.4417 or [email protected] or any member of Fox Rothschild’s national Labor & Employment Practice.