Florida: Gov. DeSantis Lifts Restrictions on Youth Activities

May 26, 2020Alerts

On Friday, May 22, 2020, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-131, which lifted all state restrictions on youth activities effective immediately, allowing local governments to decide whether limits are necessary and encouraging parents to weigh the risks and benefits of their children participating in organized activities and summer camps.

Individuals and entities planning to coordinate youth activities this summer should consult with their respective local government agencies and municipalities to determine the local rules that govern organized youth activities and summer camps.

Carefully following state and local health guidelines, as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance could help mitigate litigation risk in the event of a civil complaint related to COVID-19 transmission. We recommend consulting with counsel to discuss training of personnel, documenting the procedures being implemented to prevent transmission of COVID-19, risk mitigation (including testing protocols) and how to properly warn parents of the risks.

Gov. DeSantis said that he believes data supports Florida’s decision to lift the restriction on youth activities. He cited information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children are typically at less risk of COVID-19 complications. Florida has recorded no COVID-19 deaths among patients younger than 25. 

While the state of Florida will not “be instituting a lot of rules or really any rules” regarding how to conduct youth activities, according to Gov. DeSantis, mayors and other local officials are still permitted to impose their own regulations, including sustaining the ban. For example, in South Florida, Miami-Dade County announced after Gov. DeSantis’ press conference that summer camps will most likely be allowed to begin operations on June 8.

The Florida Department of Health will post “best practices” and frequently asked questions on its website, offering advice on how youth activities should be conducted. It is recommended that youth sports leaders and camp operators follow the Florida Department of Health’s guidelines when they are issued as well as CDC best practices and OSHA safety guidance.

DeSantis said he trusts coaches, youth activity organizers and parents to keep children safe.