Essential Businesses Executive Order (20-91) FAQs

Essential Businesses Executive Order (20-91)

Q: When does the Governor’s Executive Order go into effect?

A: April 3, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Q: How long is the Order in effect?

A: The Order will expire on April 30, 2020 unless extended by a subsequent order.

Q: Does the Executive Order expire at 12:01 a.m. on April 30? or at 11:59 p.m. on April 30?

A: Unless otherwise stated in the order or law, effective dates are like 21st birthdays – you can start lawfully drinking at midnight, just a few seconds into the date. We encourage you to continue checking back here, as we will update this page to provide guidance on any new order for you and your business.

Q: Do I need a special permit to travel if I am stopped by the police or to prove that my business is deemed essential?

A: At this time, the Governor’s Executive Order does not require a special permit (by the state). However, some businesses are providing their essential employees with a letter stating their designation within the company to carry when traveling to and from work or when performing official duties. The Florida Chamber has created a model template for your business to utilize should you wish to provide your employees with a letter of designation.

Q: Are local authorities allowed to adopt stricter requirements than those in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91?

A: When it comes to local governments’ authorities, think of the Executive Order as a floor for restrictions but a ceiling for the designation of essential services and activities. Local authorities are able to adopt additional requirements not preempted by any of the previous Governor’s executive orders.  For instance, local governments can require certain businesses to close or set additional social distancing requirements on any business, organization or activity.  Local governments, however, are not able to add industries, services or activities to the essential services or essential activities list.  Any local government may request an addition to the essential services or essential activities listed in the Governor’s Executive Order. 

Q: Is my local chamber of commerce an essential business?

A: Yes. Per language in the Miami Dade County Emergency Order guidance included in the Governor’s Executive Order, “Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate, and which do not interact with the general public.” You and your employees should be following the social distancing and safer at home guidelines contained in the Order as well.

Q: Do I need a special permit to travel if I am stopped by the police or to prove that my business is deemed essential?

A: At this time, the Governor’s Executive Order does not require a special permit (by the state). However, some businesses are providing their essential employees with a letter stating their designation within the company to carry when traveling to and from work or when performing official duties. The Florida Chamber has created a model template for your business to utilize should you wish to provide your employees with a letter of designation.

Q: If your business does not appear to be designated as essential and you believe it should be, what should you do?

A: Business owners may contact the State Coordinating Officer, who in conjunction with the State Health Officer, will be maintaining the list of essential services.

Q: My General Counsel wants to know if our local coffee shop is considered an essential service and can remain open for business?

A: Yes, local coffee shops are considered essential, not just by all of us early-birds, but through the guidelines outlined in the executive order. 

Q: Are golf courses in Florida required to close?

A: Not necessarily. Golf courses are considered recreational activity and Floridians are allowed to participate in recreational activity as long as they practice physical distancing. 

Q: Are real estate sales centers, such as new home sales centers, required to close?  

A: Not necessarily. Under the CISA guidelines, new home construction servicing is considered essential and physical distancing should be practiced at all times. 

Q: Times are crazy. What’s the best wine to have with breakfast?  

A: While wine may not be a service, some will argue it’s essential at times like this. Mimosas with Florida orange juice are a favorite, but a good red never hurt.

Q: My company is squarely in the essential business category, but we have employees 65 and over who are critical to our operation. Are we required to turn them away at the door if they should come in to work on April 3rd??  

A: An employee over 65, who meets the definition of an essential worker provided in the Executive Order, shall be allowed to continue supporting critical infrastructure services by traveling to and from their place of employment. However, to the greatest degree possible, such employees should work remotely, and if not feasible, practice the utmost precautions as outlined in the Order and by the Surgeon General while in the workplace.

Q: As paddle boarding (much like golf) is an individual sport, are we able to be open for individuals to get out on the lake and exercise in the open air? And if not as a business, as individuals? Many people have purchased equipment from me.

A: While your business may not be deemed essential, the sport of paddle boarding appears consistent with the Executive Order’s definition of allowable “essential activities” which include “recreational activities (consistent with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running or swimming.” However, the Order clearly states that “a social gathering in a public space is expressly not defined as an essential activity. Groups greater than ten are not permitted to congregate.”

Q: Will equine boarding facilities be able to remain open to allow owners of the boarded horses to ride them?

A: An “essential activity” defined in the Executive Order is “taking care of pets.” The boarding facility may elect to stay open for the care of animals, but must adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Q: Are collision repair shops considered essential?

A: Yes, under section 2(f) of the Miami Dade County Emergency Order 07-20 contained within the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91, “gas stations; new and used automobile dealerships; and auto supply, auto repair, and related facilities” are essential businesses that may remain open, “provided however that such businesses should ensure that customers practice safe social distancing as advised by the CDC.”

Q: I work for a licensed roofing company. I don’t see roofing specifically listed as essential. Will you please clarify if we are allowed to stay open? And if so, is office staff allowed to report, or only the field staff performing the roofing work?

A: According to the CISA guidance under Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services, “workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors… and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences…” are deemed essential. In general, employees that support essential businesses are allowed to work, however they should follow the proper CDC guidance and if allowable, work from home.

Q: Is a pet grooming salon considered an essential business? There are no pet supplies sold at the establishment, only pet services, grooming and nail trims.

A: It doesn’t look like it, unless you also offer pet boarding.  Nail salons and hair salons are also not essential, which I am painfully aware of as I look at my nails right now.

Q: I need to move in the next month.  Am I prohibited from doing so under the order?

A: If you are moving into a new state, I would check if there are any restrictions for travel first. Like Florida’s restriction of visitors from New York and New Orleans, other states may have restrictions. If you are moving inside of Florida, there’s nothing restricting you from moving, however a residential moving company might not be open as an “essential” business at this time. 

Q: Would my residential and commercial office space cleaning business be considered essential?

A: Yes, according to section 2(i) of the Miami Dade County Emergency Order 07-20, included in the Governor’s Executive Order (20-91), that states “contractors and other tradesmen, appliance repair personnel, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other structures.”

Q: I am unclear of what recreational activities are considered “essential.”

A: In addition to those specifically listed in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91, the Governor stated in his April 2 press conference that it is less important what activity you are participating in than how you are participating in it. So long as it abides by social distancing guidelines and does not result in groups of 10 or more congregating, it is probably allowable if not prohibited locally (e.g. running trails or boat ramps closed).

Q: Are inflatables rentals considered essential? We only do delivery.

A: For the sanity of all parents with cooped up children, we can say that according to section 2(gg) of the Miami Dade County Emergency Order 07-20, included in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91, “Any business that is interacting with customers solely through electronic or telephonic means, and delivering products via mailing, shipping, or delivery services” is considered essential. 

Q: I am a personalized fitness studio. I operate by appointments only with less than 10 people at a time. I can I remain open?

A: Unfortunately, all fitness centers and studios are not considered essential businesses and must close for health precautions. However, the Governor’s Executive Order does not prevent you from interacting with your clients in a virtual workout through electronic platforms. 

Q: My family owns a swimming pool business, we build in ground concrete swimming pools, is our business essential?

A: Yes, according to section 2(cc) of the Miami Dade County Emergency Order 07-20, included in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91, “open construction sites, irrespective of the type of building,” are essential.

Q: I’m a boat mechanic for a Boat Storage Marina. Is my job considered essential?

A: Yes. According to the Miami-Dade Order section 2 (hh), included in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91, private and municipal marinas and boat launches, docking, fueling, marine supply and other marine services are essential.

Q: Is car washing considered essential, since we are sanitizing vehicle interiors?

A: Maybe.  The CISA Guidance included in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91 says, “Employees who repair and maintain vehicles, aircraft, rail equipment, marine vessels, bicycles, and the equipment and infrastructure that enables operations that encompass movement of cargo and passengers” are essential employees.  However, because this is unclear, you should verify with legal counsel.

Q: Can a non-essential business have someone working at the business if it’s not open? For example, if someone owns a small business that normally is a retail clothing storefront, can they work in their store building alone with the store closed while doing online orders, paperwork, etc. if their business is non-essential?

A: Yes, according to section 2(gg) of the Miami Dade County Emergency Order 07-20, included in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91, “Any business that is interacting with customers solely through electronic or telephonic means, and delivering products via mailing, shipping, or delivery services” may remain operational.

Q: Does the eviction suspension apply to small mom and pop hotels that are privately owned? My husband manages motels where the tenants pay weekly and monthly and we of course pay all utilities including cable.

A: No, the Governor’s Executive Order 20-94 suspending mortgage foreclosures and eviction suspensions for 45 days only provides temporary relief on evictions for residential tenants. However, the suspension on foreclosures applies to both commercial and residential properties.  

Q. My business is a supplier or supports an essential business with a call center, consulting, professional and legal services, accounting, or is a part of an essential business supply chain.  Does this make my business essential?

A. Yes.  However, if practicable, businesses should make every attempt to have employees work from home and/or practice all social distancing protocols as established by the CDC and other government orders.

Q: In a car dealership, does new and used sales department count as essential or just service, parts, and body shop?

A: Amendment 1 to the Miami-Dade Emergency Order 07-20, which Governor Ron DeSantis includes in his Executive Order on Essential Services, adds new and used automobile dealerships to the list of essential services, as long as they practice social distancing guidelines.

Q: Our Florida business is considered essential in a number of different categories. We also have pre-scheduled, monthly services in Alabama. Are my service technicians able to exit and return to Florida without any repercussions? We have also provided them with letters from our insurance company.

A: The Governor’s Executive Order 20-86 specifically exempts commercial activities from needing to quarantine. However, your service technicians may need to travel through the checkpoints that have been set up while entering the state. Additionally, you should keep an eye out for any orders in Alabama that might impact your ability to enter the state or do business in the state.

Q: I work for a small business that IS considered “essential”, what are the requirements regarding the total number of employees that should be at the office at any one given time?

A: While there is not a specific order for the number of people allowed working in an essential business, businesses are encouraged to allow employees to work from home and comply with CDC guidelines for social distancing. If it’s not practicable to have employees work from home, some businesses have started rotating shifts to allow for access to work while maintaining employee safety.

Q: After April 3, 2020 will veterinary hospitals still be considered essential? The most recent Miami-Dade Emergency Order amendment #3 excluded veterinary hospitals as essential. Is this correct?

A: Veterinarians, veterinary hospitals and pet boarding facilities were added as essential in the 2nd amendment to the initial Miami essential services order and was not removed in the 3rd amendment.  Therefore, veterinary hospitals are still considered essential.

Q: I work for a kitchen cabinet and counter top company we do installations of cabinetry in residential homes and we also have a showroom are we considered essential?

A: The installations should be fine under the Miami-Dade order (part i), that is referenced in the Governor’s Executive Order.  This allows, “Contractors and other tradesmen, appliance repair personnel, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other structures.”  Hardware stores are considered essential, which also sells kitchen cabinets and counter tops, however you should verify the showroom as an essential business with the Division of Emergency Management. 

Q: Are attorneys considered essential?

A: Professional services such as legal services are deemed essential under Miami-Dade County Emergency Order 07-20 Section 2(t) when needed to comply with legally mandated activities or requirements.

Q: I want to know if it is permissible for myself and wife to leave Naples Florida in our class A motor home and travel to Basinger Florida. We want to camp on a friend’s private lot just to get away and relax. We both own businesses and would like to take this down time to relax.

A: Yes. Under the Governor’s Executive Order, travel within the state has NOT been restricted for essential activities, including recreation, which allows for camping on private property. However, you must adhere to the social distancing guidelines, in which all social gatherings over 10 people are not allowed or else we would be asking to join you!

Q: If my business is not an essential service, must I close the physical location to customers?

A: Yes.

Q: Am I allowed to continue my business from home or remotely?

A: Yes – the Governor’s Executive Order encourages individuals to work from home.

Q: May my business and its employees operate remotely and provide delivery of our product?

A: Yes – all businesses are encouraged to provide delivery or pickup and to take orders online or by telephone.

Q: Does my business need a permit or other documentation to remain open?

A: No.

Q: Are restaurants, or other sellers of food and beverage, permitted to continue takeout and delivery services?

A: Yes. See Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) guidance here.

Q: May churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship hold services?

A: Yes. The Florida Department of Health encourages them to follow CDC guidance specific to faith organizations.

Q: May childcare centers remain open?

A: Yes – for employees working at businesses or operations that are essential services, to the extent those childcare centers adhere to social distancing.

Q: May gun stores remain open?

A: Yes.

Q: May I exercise outside or participate in recreational activities?

A: Yes – if consistent with social distancing guidelines as published by the CDC.

Q: Can I visit or travel to a family member?

A: Yes – if caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend.

Q: Where can I report a business that violates the Governor’s Executive Order?

A: Local law enforcement.

Q: Do I need a special permit to leave my house if I am going to an essential service or essential activity?

A: No. Some businesses may wish to provide a letter to employees to clarify that their business is indeed an essential service.

Q: Has the current two-week Vacation Rentals Ban been extended to 30 days by the Governor’s new Executive Order?

A: The Governor has extended the vacation rental suspension through April 30th in Executive Order 20-103, extending the initial two-week vacation rental suspension designated in Executive Order 20-87.  

Q: Am I allowed to go out and buy items to make repairs at my house? To repair the water heater? What about to repair damaged siding?

A: Hardware stores are considered essential businesses and you can travel to buy items to make repairs at home.  However, be sure to practice social distancing at all times and don’t go anywhere if you are sick.

Q: Trying to find out the best route to take to get grants. My CPA told me I am only eligible for $7,300 due to the fact that it’s based on my last year payroll tax. I only paid myself dividends checks so that lowers the amount I can borrow. Is this information correct?

A: We defer to your CPA on this. However, your CPA is correct that the Paycheck Protection Program is based on your prior year’s payroll.

Q: We are a Miami Condo of 316 units. Should we consider a resident moving in or moving out non-essential business?

A: According to the list maintained by the Department of Health and Division of Emergency Management, “Workers responsible for the leasing of residential properties to provide individuals and families with ready access to available housing” are considered essential.

Q: My business provides in person classes for licensing and certification.  Are we allowed to remain open?

A: We would recommend that businesses providing in-person classes follow the guidelines for private colleges, trade schools and technical colleges in this instance, and only remain open to facilitate online or distance learning.

Q: We bought a condo in February with the purpose of bringing it up to 2020 standards and selling it. We have everything lined up to start the remodel on April 15, but the condo assoc. has now put a rule up banning all construction workers from entering the building due to COVID-19. Can they do this? Construction as it pertains to adding housing to the market is allowed, so I’m wondering if they must allow these workers?

A: There is not an order that essential employees or industries must operate. 

Q: We are an essential business with six employees. We are currently limiting groups inside the business to 10 plus the 6 employees, keeping everyone more than 6 feet apart and all guidelines are respected and implemented. Is this correct OR are we only allowed 10 people including the 6 employees?

A: With Executive Order 20-83, the State Surgeon General and the State Health Officer issued a public health advisory urging the public to avoid all social or recreational gatherings of 10 or more people and urging those who can work remotely to do so. While there is not a specific order for the number of people allowed working in an essential business, businesses are encouraged to allow employees to work from home and comply with CDC guidelines for social distancing. If it’s not practicable to have employees work from home, some businesses have started rotating shifts to allow for access to work while maintaining employee safety.  

Q: Am I allowed to rent a house/condo if I am temporarily relocating to support an essential business?

A: Yes. Under the Governor’s Executive Order 20-87, Section 1 (B), “long term rentals” or “rentals to persons performing military, emergency, governmental, health or infrastructure response, or travelers engaged in non-vacation commercial activities” are allowed.

Q: In Escambia county the local newspaper PNJ quoted a spokesperson for the city stating that the Governor’s ” ordinance did NOT specifically order non-essential businesses to close, just orders non-essential employees and other Florida residents to limit their movements to essential activities and stay at home. Does this mean that closing a non-essential business is voluntary?

A: No. Under the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91, all non-essential businesses must close to the public. But individuals can continue work from home and it allows businesses to provide delivery, carry out, or curbside service if they are able.

Q: Are private schools, such as flight schools allowed to remain open? These are in person classes and in aircraft instruction in small quarters?

A: Unless the private flight school is in support of “essential critical infrastructure workers” it is not considered to be an essential service. Additionally, the flight instruction would be in violation of the of the Center for Disease Control and EO 20-91‘s social distancing guidelines.

Q: If I have paid a significant deposit to a non-essential business that is now closed, is this business legally required to refund me for the service they cannot provide?

A:  You should check the contract terms and consult with your attorney on how best to move forward.

Q: If a non-essential business has closed and employees are receiving full pay via the Payroll Protection Program, are these employees allowed to work at the business location?

A: The Paycheck Protection Program has no bearing on whether a non-essential business must remain closed.  If the concern is related to loan forgiveness for PPP, the loan forgiveness will be based on payroll paid during the 8 weeks, not whether the employee physically showed up to work.

Q: Are Licensed Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, Energy Medicine Practitioners considered essential since they provide physical and emotional relief?

A: Governor Executive Order 20-72 suspended all elective medical services and procedures, unless the service or procedure, if delayed, would put the patient’s immediate health, safety or well-being at risk, or if delayed, would contribute to the worsening of a serious or life-threatening medical condition. 

Q: Are organized horse shows (marketed to draw large crowds) considered an approved recreational activity and can they be held during this time?

A:  Horseback riding would probably be considered a recreational activity, however anything that draws a crowd would not be considered essential and should be avoided.

Q: Are students traveling from out-of-state residences to retrieve their belongings from campus dorms subject to the 14 day self-quarantine?

A: Executive orders 20-80, 20-82 and 20-86 deal with people traveling into the State of Florida.  If someone is coming from an area with substantial community spread, including people from the State of Louisiana and the Tri-State area (New York- New Jersey- Connecticut), they are required to quarantine for a period of 14 days, or their time in Florida, whichever is less. 

Q: What is the penalty for non-essential businesses that stay open during this time?

A: Florida Statute 252.50 speaks to penalties for persons or businesses that violate any rules or orders made pursuant to a state of emergency.  The penalty is a misdemeanor of the second degree and includes up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.  Additionally, if you’re subject to state licensure, state agencies such as the Department of Business and Professional Regulation have been directed to utilize its authorities under Florida Law, which could mean suspension or a revocation of licensure.  

Q: As a hairdresser, am I allowed to perform my services in clients’ homes? Can I be fined?

A: Florida Statute 252.50 speaks to penalties for persons or businesses that violate any rules or orders made pursuant to a state of emergency.  The penalty is a misdemeanor of the second degree and includes up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. 

Related Questions – Essential Businesses Executive Order (20-91)

Q: How is the Governor’s Executive Order enforced?

A: By law enforcement. Violation of the Governor’s Executive Order is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Q: May senior citizens and individuals with significant medical conditions leave their homes to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, or go for a walk, or go to work at an essential service?

A: Yes – they may leave their homes when necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.  

Q: If I need counseling, can I receive it?

A: Yes. For specific information on COVID-19 counseling, contact the Florida Department of Health at 1-866-779-6121 or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov

Q: When employees return to work in the office, rather than at home, are we, as an employer, required to institute temperature or other symptom monitoring prior to allowing employees back in the building?

A: At this time, there has not been any guidance issued on what returning to work will look like and what employers need to do.  The Florida Chamber will publish any guidance issued by the state and federal government, however you can also visit the US Department of Labor, OSHA, and the Florida Department of Health for guidance and other information related to workplace safety. 

Q: My husband and I have his two teens who are not following stay-at-home orders. How is the stay-at-home order enforced for teens aged 14-18? Are there penalties for parents if their children break the stay-at-home order?

A: While there are not penalties specific for parents, anyone found violating any rules or orders made pursuant to the state of emergency can be found guilty of a misdemeanor in the second degree.  This comes with a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail.

Q: Is my business “essential” under the new executive order to “Stay at Home”?

A: Governor DeSantis’ Executive order leaned heavily on both the Miami Dade County Emergency Order (07-20) outlining essential services and activities and the federal guidance by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) outlining essential critical infrastructure workers. The Florida Chamber advocated for utilization of this guidance and a broad interpretation of it in any potential essential services and activities order. Be sure to check out both sets of guidance contained in the Governor’s Executive Order to accurately determine your business’ status.

Q: Is the Governor’s Executive Order consistent with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on 30 Days to Slow the Spread?

Yes. See the President’s and CDC’s guidance here.