Florida’s Road to Recovery Begins

Late yesterday, on April 29, 2020, Florida’s Governor issued his Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery in Executive Order 20-112 and clarifying FAQs, which will be effective 12:01 a.m. on May 4, 2020, until a new order is issued.

To begin the slow reopening of Florida, the Phase 1 Plan for Recovery authorizes the following, except in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties:

  • Restaurants and food establishments licensed under Chapters 500 or 509, Florida Statutes, may allow on-premises and outdoor seating for consumption of food and beverage, so long as they maintain a minimum of 6 feet between parties, only seat parties of 10 or fewer people, keep bar counters closed to seating, and limit their indoor occupancy to no more than 25 percent of their building occupancy.
  • In-store retail sales establishments to may open storefronts if they operate at no more than 25 percent of their building occupancy and abide by the safety guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA. Note that while personal care services such as barbershops and salons with close contact must remain closed, the portions of those businesses with on-site retail sales may re-open at 25 percent building occupancy.
  • Museums and libraries may open at no more than 25 percent of their building occupancy, provided, however, that (a) local public museums and local public libraries may operate only if permitted by local government, and (b) any components of museums or libraries that have interactive functions or exhibits, including child play areas, remain closed.
  • A hospital ambulatory surgical center, office surgery center, dental office, orthodontic office, endodontic office or other health care practitioners’ office in the State of Florida may fully reopen to perform all services, including elective procedures, only if the facility:
    • has the capacity to immediately convert additional facility-identified surgical and intensive care beds for treatment of COVID-19 patients in a surge capacity situation;
    • has adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to complete all medical procedures and respond to COVID-19 treatment needs, without the facility seeking any additional federal or state assistance regarding PPE supplies;
    • has not sought any additional federal, state, or local government assistance regarding PPE supplies since resuming elective procedures; and
    • has not refused to provide support to and proactively engage with skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and other long-term care residential providers.

Yesterday, the Governor also issued Executive Order 20-111, in part, to extend his earlier Safer-at-Home Order until Phase 1 Plan begins. The Phase 1 Plan for Recovery further extends many of the Governor’s previous Executive Orders that were issued to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Florida.  For example, under the Phase 1 Plan for Recovery:

  • Bars, pubs and nightclubs that derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages shall continue to suspend the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
  • Gyms and fitness centers must remain closed.
  • The prohibition on vacation rentals remains in effect.

Violation of the Phase 1 Plan for Recovery is a second-degree misdemeanor, and is punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 60 days, a fine not to exceed $500, or both.  State and local law enforcement will enforce the Phase 1 Plan. Regulated businesses may also be subject to enforcement actions from applicable regulatory agencies, such as the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the Department of Health.

In compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders, Williams Parker remains dedicated to serving its clients and continues to advise and represent clients with respect to their legal matters. Our firm has launched a multidisciplinary task force of lawyers across the firm to advise on issues arising from COVID-19. This team is closely monitoring legal developments and guidance from federal, state, and local government and public health officials. For the latest updates, please visit our website.