Florida Safer at Home Order

Date   Apr 3, 2020

On April 1, 2020, Florida Governor Ron Desantis issued Order 20-91 directing Floridians to limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities, and additionally directing senior citizens and individuals with significant underlying medical conditions to stay at home during the continued COVID-19 crisis. The order does not define specify at what age individuals are considered to be senior citizens. The Safer at Home Order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 3, 2020, and will expire on April 30, 2020, unless extended by a subsequent order.

Under the order, Floridians are encouraged to work from home. Businesses are encouraged to provide delivery, carry-out, or curbside service to the greatest extent practicable. The Order indicates that there will be a list of both essential services and essential activities to supplement those listed in the Order available on the Division of Emergency Management’s website. However, the state has yet to issue further guidance and clarification.

What are Essential Activities?

Pursuant to the Order, individuals are permitted to leave their homes to perform the following activities:

  • Attend religious services conducted in churches, synagogues, and other places of worship.
  • Participate in recreational activities such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running, or swimming, subject to social distancing guidelines.
  • Take care of pets.
  • Care for or otherwise assist friends and other loved ones.

The Order further states that any social gathering in a public space is not an essential activity. Groups of more than ten individuals are not permitted to congregate in any public space.

What are Essential Services?

The Order incorporates the list issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, and any subsequent list published. The following sectors are detailed in the guidance and considered “essential”:

  • Healthcare and public health
  • Law enforcement, public safety, and other first responders
  • Food and agriculture
  • Energy, including electricity, petroleum, natural gas, propane, and other liquid fuels
  • Water and wastewater
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Public works and infrastructure support services
  • Communications
  • Information technology
  • Community and government-based operations and essential functions (which includes individuals such as elections personnel, workers supporting the operations of the judicial system, weather forecasters, educators, and individuals providing real estate services, amongst other positions detailed in the guidance)
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Hazardous materials
  • Financial services
  • Chemical
  • Defense industrial base
  • Commercial facilities (which includes individuals such as workers who support the supply chain of building materials, workers in hardware and building materials stores, and workers repairing and installing HVAC systems, refrigeration, and ventilation equipment, amongst other positions detailed in the guidance)
  • Residential/shelter facilities and services
  • Hygiene products and services

In addition, the Order incorporates any essential services listed in Executive Order 20-89 and its attached list of services. The following are additional essential services and businesses listed in Order 20-89:

  • Private colleges, trade schools, and technical colleges, but only as needed to facilitate online or distance learning.
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food (limited to carry out and delivery).
  • Businesses that supply office products needed for people to work from home.
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children.
  • Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and adult day care centers, and senior residential facilities.
  • Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities.
  • Landscape and pool care businesses.
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in the Order to work as permitted.
  • Businesses operating at any airport, seaport, or other government facility, including parks and government offices.
  • Pet supply stores.
  • Office space and administrative support necessary to support essential services.
  • Open construction sites.
  • Any business that is interacting with customers solely through electronic or telephonic means, and delivering products via mailing, shipping, or delivery services.

Other Considerations

Order 20-91 states that it supersedes any conflicting local orders to the extent that the local orders allow essential services or activities prohibited by the Order. Therefore, it appeared that cities and counties could have more restrictive requirements regarding what constitutes essential activities and services. Shortly after signing the Safer at Home Order, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-92 to amend this provision. The newest order indicates that cities and counties cannot have their own orders with more prohibitive restrictions in place. However, in a subsequent press conference, Governor DeSantis has indicated that cities and counties can in fact issue tougher stay-at-home orders. The ambiguity has not yet been clarified.

If you have any questions regarding this Alert, please feel free to contact the author, Natasha Khoyi,, who is an attorney in our Tampa office, or the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.

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