Florida stay-at-home: Statewide order now in effect to help slow coronavirus spread

Coronavirus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – The statewide stay-at-home order that Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday in response to the coronavirus pandemic is now in effect.

“I’m going to be doing an executive order directing all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary, to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities,” the governor said.

RELATED STORY: What does Florida’s stay-at-home order mean?

The executive order lists essential activities as:

  • Attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship
  • Participating in recreational activities (consistent with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running or swimming
  • Taking care of pets
  • Caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend

RELATED STORY: Gov. DeSantis signs executive order superseding local COVID-19 orders

Essential businesses and services that are allowed to stay open during the order include:

  • Healthcare providers (hospitals, doctors, dentists, urgent care centers, clinics, rehab facilities, physical therapists, mental health professionals, psychiatrists, therapists, pharmacies, etc.)
  • Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, etc.
  • Food cultivation including farming, livestock and fishing
  • Businesses providing food, shelter, social services and other necessities of life to the economically disadvantaged
  • Newspaper, television, radio and other media services
  • Gas stations and auto supply or auto repair facilities
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Hardware stores
  • Contractors and tradesmen, appliance repair personnel, exterminators and other service providers
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services
  • Private colleges, trade schools and technical colleges – but only as needed to facilitate distance learning
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, subject to previously-implemented limitations
  • Businesses that supply office products needed for people to work from home
  • Businesses that supply other essential businesses with support or supplies
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to a residence
  • Airlines, taxis and other private transportation
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults or children
  • Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, adult day care centers and senior residential facilities
  • Professional services such as legal or accounting services
  • Landscape and pool care businesses
  • Childcare facilities
  • Businesses operating at airports, seaports or other government facilities
  • Pet supply stores
  • Logistics providers (warehouse, trucking, consolidators, fumigators, handlers)
  • Telecommunication providers
  • Provision of propane or natural gas
  • Office space and administrative support
  • Open construction sites
  • Architectural, engineering or land surveying services
  • Factories, manufacturing facilities, bottling plants or other industrial uses
  • Waste management services
  • Businesses interacting with customers solely electronically or through the phone

If any “essential service” is missing from the initial executive order, the governor says it can be added.

READ: Governor’s full executive order on statewide stay-at-home

The governor’s order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and will be in place for 30 days. A second executive order clarifies that the statewide safer-at-home order supersedes all orders that local governments put into place.

DeSantis said he consulted with the White House and spoke with President Donald Trump about the decision. He noted that the White House coronavirus task force’s extended guidelines from Tuesday night played a role in the decision, calling the president’s move a “national pause.”

RELATED STORY: What’s considered an essential business?

“We’re going to be in this for another 30 days,” he said. “At this point, even though there’s a lot of places in Florida that have very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now.”

While the order is in effect – and because traffic is expected to be lighter than normal – DeSantis also ordered $2.1 billion in transportation projects to be accelerated. Those projects include the Howard Frankland bridge project in Tampa Bay.

Before his announcement on Wednesday afternoon, DeSantis had been facing growing pressure to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. Thirteen lawmakers who represent Florida penned a letter to the governor earlier in the week urging him to issue the order.

DeSantis said Tuesday he had been in touch with the White House coronavirus task force and members had not recommended a statewide shutdown.

“I’m in contact with them and basically I’ve said, ‘are you guys recommending this?’ The task force has not recommended that to me,” he said at the time. “If they do, obviously that would be something that would carry a lot of weight with me.”

Shortly after that news briefing, Vice President Mike Pence – who is leading the task force – clarified that they were deferring those decisions to the states.

“We recognize that when you’re dealing with a health crisis in the country, it is locally executed by health care workers but it is state-managed,” Pence said Tuesday evening. “So we continue to flow information to state governors, we continue to hear about the data that they’re analyzing. But at the president’s direction, the White House coronavirus task force will continue to take the posture that we will defer to state and local health authorities on any measures that they deem appropriate.”

He and the president did, however, compliment the governor and his actions.

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