Alerts and Updates

Florida Governor Issues Stay-at-Home Order—But Only for Southeast Florida

March 31, 2020

Despite calls for the governor to implement the restrictions across the state, he has not done so—yet.

On March 30, 2020, the Office of the Governor of the State of Florida issued Executive Order 20-89, the most recent step taken by Governor Ron DeSantis to deal with the spread of COVID-19 throughout Florida. The order essentially directs the counties comprising South Florida (and neighboring Monroe County) to restrict public access to nonessential businesses and facilities until at least April 15, 2020. While other states adopting “stay-at-home” orders have done so on a statewide basis, this order is limited to four counties in southeast Florida. Despite calls for the governor of the country’s third-most populous state to implement the restrictions across the state, he has not done so—yet.

Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties (which house West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, respectively), are the three most populous counties in Florida. Together, they comprise most of the South Florida region and are home to various corporate headquarters and travel destinations. Further, one local industry-focused group has described the area as having “the largest concentration of domestic and international banks on the East Coast south of New York City.” Monroe County, which borders Miami-Dade County to the south and west, encompasses the Florida Keys and much of the Everglades.

In Order 20-89, the governor explains that (a) more than 60 percent of Florida’s “identified COVID-19 cases” are in the neighboring southern counties, and (b) Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties want to “harmonize restricted public access mandates in order to establish uniformity and consistency throughout their counties of close proximity.” The governor ordered all four counties “to restrict public access to businesses and facilities deemed non-essential pursuant to the guidelines established by Miami-Dade County” under its Emergency Order 07-20, as amended, which we described in our March 24 Alert on stay-at-home measures in Florida.

Under Miami-Dade County’s emergency order—which now serves as the reference point for the South Florida region overall—businesses excepted from the stay-at-home order (that is, businesses which may be accessed by the public notwithstanding the order), include, among others:

  • Healthcare providers;
  • Grocery stores, farmers market, produce stands, etc.;
  • Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair and related facilities;
  • Banks and related financial institutions;
  • Professional services, such as legal or accounting firms, when necessary to assist in complying with legally mandated activities;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Landscape and pool care businesses;
  • Veterinarians and pet boarding facilities;
  • Mortuaries, funeral homes and cemeteries; and
  • Firearm and ammunition supply stores.

(A copy of the original Miami-Dade County order, and the amendments thereto, are attached to the governor’s Executive Order 20-89.)

Notwithstanding the order’s selection of the guidelines in Miami-Dade County’s order concerning nonessential versus essential businesses, Order 20-89 permits county administrators to, “[a]t their discretion,” determine additional “essential” retail and commercial establishments (or institutions providing essential services) that shall not be subject to complete closure. As such, counties are free to lessen the burden imposed by adoption of Miami-Dade County’s designation to the extent they classify more establishments or institutions within their county lines as “essential.”

To protect means of accessing or returning from essential service establishments, the governor’s order prohibits the four counties from instituting curfews related to transit to or from such establishments.

About Duane Morris

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For Further Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Harvey W. Gurland, Jr., Patrick C. Gallagher, Ph.D., Justin M. L. Stern, any member of the COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.