Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday that he is issuing a statewide stay-at-home order to combat the spread of coronavirus.
The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. April 3. According to CDC data, Florida ranks sixth in the nation for positive COVID-19 cases.
"We are going to be in this (coronavirus pandemic) for another 30 days, that's just the reality," DeSantis said during a news conference. "It makes sense to make this move now."
The executive order is being signed today and will limit movement and personal interactions outside the home. The order has six sections, defining the "Safer At Home," essential services, essential activities, local orders, previous executive orders and effective and expiration dates.
When the order goes into effect, everyone living in the state will be told to remain in their homes except for essential services and activities. DeSantis said he and his team used the Department of Homeland Security guide to list services and businesses that will be allowed to remain open during the stay-at-home order.
Businesses that are deemed non-essential will have to close to the public, but DeSantis said some non-essential businesses like restaurants can still operate and deliver food.
"There are some businesses that are non-essential, which won't be able to have people congregate inside, but they will be able to deliver," he said.
The order says it does not bar people from working from home and encourages businesses and organizations that can deliver or provide carry-out service to do so.
Essential activities outlined in the order include attending religious services in churches and other houses of worship, recreational activities (with social distancing) like walking and biking, taking care of pets and caring for a loved one or a friend in need.
The original order specifically stated it did not supersede any conflicting orders issued by local authorities in response to COVID-19, but the governor on Thursday signed an amended order. It says the state's order does supersede local orders, meaning more restrictive measures taken by cities and counties can no longer be enforced.
The governor said he spoke with the White House and President Donald Trump about the decision after the administration extended the social distancing guidelines for another 30 days. DeSantis said Trump agreed about focusing on the areas with the highest number of cases but also supported a statewide move.
DeSantis' response to the coronavirus pandemic in his state has been questioned for weeks and had been asked multiple times why he had not yet issued a statewide directive. Much of the criticism came after videos showed a packed Clearwater Beach during spring break amid cries for social distancing.
When asked on Tuesday, DeSantis said a statewide order hadn't been recommended to him.
"I’m in contact with them and basically I’ve said, 'Are you guys recommending this?' The [White House Coroanvirus] Task Force has not recommended that to me," he said. "If they do, you know, obviously that would be something that would carry a lot of weight with me."
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the following are considered essential:
- Healthcare/Public Health (i.e. Hospitals and Doctors)
- Law Enforcement, Public Safety and First Responders (i.e. Police and Emergency Management Services)
- Food and Agriculture (i.e. Farmers and food manufacturers)
- Energy (i.e. Natural Gas and Nuclear facilities)
- Water and Waste water (i.e. Water Department)
- Transportation and Logistics (i.e. Trucking and shipping)
- Public Works and Infrastructure (i.e. Safety inspectors for public facilities including dams, bridges, etc.)
- Communications and Information Technology (i.e. maintainers of communications infrastructure, such as wireless, internet and cable providers)
- Community and Local Government (i.e. federal, state, local, tribal and territorial employees who support Mission Essential Functions)
- Critical Manufacturing (i.e. metals, PPE, supply chain minerals and employees that support other essential services)
- Hazardous Materials (i.e. healthcare waste and nuclear facilities)
- Financial Services (i.e. banks)
- Chemical (i.e. workers supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains)
- Defense Industrial (i.e. essential services required to meet national security commitments to the federal government and U.S. Military)
- Commercial Facilities (i.e. workers who support the supply chain of building materials)
- Residential/Shelter Facilities (i.e. workers in dependent care services)
- Hygiene Products and Services (i.e. laundromats, personal and household goods repair and maintenance)
A stay-at-home order does not mean Floridians can't go outside. Cities, counties and states around the country have issued similar stay-at-home or "safer-at-home" orders to keep people from spreading COVID-19.
These orders essentially mean everyone should limit how much they leave their house other than for essential activities and outdoor exercise. Yes, you can still walk your dog, jog in your neighborhood and go to the grocery store.
However, these orders require people to practice social distancing per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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