COVID-19 Response (have a question… ask the Florida Chamber below)
Key Guidance and Direction
Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Executive Order
Essential Services and Activities Executive Order
Frequently Asked Questions
Florida Business Alert: Please be aware that Florida has more billboard personal injury trial lawyers and billboards encouraging you to sue someone than any other state in America. While we’re doing our best to pass along information we’re getting from government sources, please consult with your trusted advisor and legal counsel before making decisions that are specific to your business and geography. Special thanks to all of our Florida Chamber members, Local Chambers of Commerce, Executive Office of the Governor, and several agencies for submitting and/or helping us answer these important questions.
Full Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Executive Order (20-112, 20-120, 20-122, and 20-123):
Q: When does the Governor’s Full Phase 1 Executive Order take effect? How long does it last?
A: The Governor’s Executive Order (20-123) to enter Full Phase 1 takes effect Monday, May 18, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and lasts until the Governor issues a subsequent order.
Q: Is the “Safer at Home” Order over?
A: Executive Order 20-112 maintains limitations on the movements of persons except for those businesses and services that are currently open and those businesses that re-open in accordance with Executive Order 20-123.
Q: Does this order (20-123) apply to all Florida counties?
A: Yes. Executive Order 20-120 and 20-122 brought Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties into alignment with the rest of the state in terms of reopening.
Q: Is the Governor’s Executive Order consistent with the President’s Opening Up America Again Plan?
A: Governor DeSantis met with President Trump on April 28th to discuss this plan and the President was very supportive of Florida’s efforts to take a safe, smart, step-by-step approach to re-open Florida. See President Trump’s guidance here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/.
Q: Does this Executive Order supersede local law?
A: The Governor’s Executive Order 20-91 limiting the movements of persons has been incorporated and modified in the new Executive Order 20-112 to include businesses currently open and certain businesses re-opening at 50 percent building occupancy. The Governor’s Executive Orders do not contain a preemption on local rules where those rules restrict or close businesses or buildings. Local governments may also choose to keep certain industries closed, such as gym and fitness facilities.
Q: When can we expect Phase 2 to start?
A: Once the Governor determines it is suitable to continue re-opening based on the White House gating criteria and after fully considering medical data in consultation with state health officials.
Q: What does Executive Order 20-114 do and how does it impact other recent EOs?
Q: Can I go to my doctor if it’s not COVID-19 related?
A: Medical services, including elective procedures, surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental offices, orthodontic offices, endodontic office and other health care practitioners offices may fully re-open. As a condition of resuming elective procedures, hospitals will be required to assist nursing homes and long-term care facilities in their efforts to protect the vulnerable.
However, they must maintain adequate bed capacity and PPE. They must also have the capacity to immediately convert additional surgical and intensive care beds in a surge situation and must not have received or sought any additional federal, state or local government assistance regarding PPE after resuming elective procedures.
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?
A: Yes, they may leave their homes to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.
Q: Can individuals visit nursing homes and long-term care facilities?
A: No, for safety reasons, those restrictions will remain in place in Phase 1 of the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery and with conditions set by the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Q: Are dental offices allowed to reopen?
A: Executive Order 20-112 removed the previous Executive Order’s restrictions related to elective medical services and procedures. Health care practitioners, including dentists, are now allowed to fully open for business, however there are public healthy safety and preparedness requirements outlined in the new Executive Order they must meet prior to opening.
Q: Are elective medical procedures and health care facilities allowed to reopen in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade?
A: Yes. Executive Order 20-112 removed the previous Executive Order’s restrictions on elective medical services and procedures statewide.
Q: Can eye clinics and optometrists open?
A: If you’ve been closed under the Non-Essential Elective Medical Procedures order 20-72, you are able to re-open, as long as you meet the conditions outlined in Executive Order 20-112. Again, this portion of the Order applies statewide and therefore includes the allowance of the resumption of such medical procedures in the Tri-County area.
Q: Are cosmetic procedures allowed to resume under the new order?
Q: Is airport screening and isolation in effect for visitors from highly affected COVID-19 areas?
A: Yes, this order extends Executive Order 20-80, Airport Screening and Isolation, and Executive Order 20-82, Isolation of Individuals traveling to Florida, with exceptions for military, emergency, health, infrastructure or commercial related activity. Travelers entering the State of Florida must isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida, or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter.
Q: Are there any exceptions to having to self-isolate after traveling into the state?
A: The Governor’s Executive Order continues to require isolation when traveling into the state, however includes exceptions for persons involved in the military, emergency, health or infrastructure response or if the person is engaged in commercial activity.
Q: Am I allowed to travel within the state?
A: There are not any restrictions related to traveling within the state.
Q: Can I rent or stay at a vacation rental?
A: Executive Order 20-123 allows counties to seek approval for vacation rentals by submitting a written request and safety plan for vacation rentals by the County Administrator to the Secretary of the Department and Business Professional Regulation (DBPR). For DBPR guidance and the current status of vacation rental operations by counties, visit here.
Q: Am I allowed to travel to Florida and stay in a vacation rental for 30 days if it is not for business-related travel?
A: Executive Order 20-123 allows counties to seek approval for vacation rentals by submitting a written request and safety plan for vacation rentals by the County Administrator to the Secretary of the Department and Business Professional Regulation (DBPR). For DBPR guidance and the current status of vacation rental operations by counties, visit here.
Q: For guests/travelers that are visiting Florida for work, to engage in non-vacationing commercial business for less than 30 days; do I need to require documentation from the traveler in order to avoid the misdemeanor charge in the Governor’s order?
A: The Executive Order does not require specific documentation, but the Florida Chamber recommends in an abundance of caution that these exempted travelers engaging in rentals to consider if company-issued documentation is appropriate for their situation.
Q: Are vacation rentals required to give a refund if the dates reserved are during the vacation rental ban?
A: The Executive Orders do not directly address who bears costs associated with compliance. The Florida Chamber recommends that you read over your specific contract and contact the platform or renting party directly.
Q: Do hotels and resorts have any limits on occupancy or operating?
A: No. They are able to continue operations as they have been since they were previously declared essential.
Q: What hotel and motel restrictions are still in place under the new Executive Order?
A: Under phase one, at the state level, hotels and motels are allowed to operate because they have been deemed essential. However, there may be local regulations in effect which permit only essential lodgers to stay at public lodging establishments.
Q: I am a nurse rapid responder who has been working a FEMA mission in New York for the last month. I am returning to Florida, am I allowed to rent a condo for 14 days to quarantine away from family?
A: Yes. The Governor’s Executive Order (20-87) related to vacation or “short term rentals” exempts in Section 1(B)(iv) rentals to persons performing military, emergency, governmental, health or infrastructure response, or travelers engaged in non-vacation commercial activities.
Q: Does the stay at home order expire today? Are non-essential businesses able to bring employees back to work?
A: The Governor issued two Executive Orders on April 20, 2020. One Order (20-111) extends the current Essential Services order to Sunday, May 3, at midnight. Monday morning (May 4), the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Order (20-112) goes into effect. The delay in implementing the Phase 1 reopen to May 4 gives businesses the ability to contact employees, get supplies and other time to prepare to reopen. Executive Order 20-123 allows certain businesses, such as restaurants and retail, to open up to 50 percent capacity and allows businesses, such as amusement parks, to submit a reopening request and safety plan to the State of Florida.
Q: Can I open my business?
A: Restaurants will be allowed to re-open with full outdoor seating. Indoor seating will be allowed at 50 percent of building capacity. On-site sale and retail businesses will be allowed to operate at 50 percent occupancy. Starting Monday, May 11, personal services such as nail salons, barbershops and hair salons are allowed to reopen according to Executive Order 20-120, as long as they follow social distancing protocols and the guidance issued by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation has issued mandatory measures and best practices for restaurants and FAQ for restaurants and barbershops and cosmetology salons. Mandatory measures and best practices have also been issued for fitness centers and gyms,
If your business is open, it may remain open and should continue appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures. Also, any activity or work that has been available under the previous order remains available. Businesses should adopt appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures. Businesses can consult Executive Orders 20-112, 20-120 and 20-123 for a full list of businesses allowed to reopen under certain conditions. Click here for a full list of DBPR compliance requirements as a result of reopening after COVID-19.
Q: What businesses will remain closed?
A: Bars, nightclubs, indoor movie theaters and bowling alleys will remain closed during Phase 1 of re-opening.
Q: May my business and its employees continue to 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: Are there minimum health protocols that must be met to open my business?
A: Yes, the Governor’s Executive Orders 20-112, 20-120 and 20-123 require appropriate social distancing and limits groups to 10 people or fewer. Regulated businesses should adhere to agency guidance. Additionally, businesses should consult with the most up-to-date Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
Q: What do I need to do to open my business?
A: Review the requirements of the Governor’s Executive Order 20-112,20-120, and 20-123. Also regularly review any guidance that has been provided from state and federal regulatory agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Q: Do employee temperature checks need to be done?
A: For restaurants, employee protocols remain in place under the Governor’s Executive Order. Other businesses should adopt appropriate measures based on CDC guidance or state agency guidance.
Q: Are masks required for employees and customers?
A: It depends on the type of business. For example, barbershops and cosmetology salons do require the use of masks by employees. Customers, employees and employers should consult CDC guidance and relevant state guidance. Some local governments may also require the use of masks.
Q: If a business exceeds 50 percent capacity, do they get fined?
A: Yes, enforcement penalties remain in place including a second-degree misdemeanor with a fine up to $500. Certain regulated businesses may face enforcement action for violations from their regulatory agency.
Q: Should individuals go to facilities that have not re-opened?
A: Individuals should travel only to businesses that have been open or are now re-opened.
Q: Who enforces compliance?
A: Local and state law enforcement continue to enforce Executive Orders, along with the regulatory agencies that oversee businesses. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation has also created an online form to file a complaint against a business that is not in compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders.
Q: Under the Governor’s re-opening order, retail establishments will be allowed to open at 50% capacity. Does that also apply to big box stores such as Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s? Or since they have already been operating as essential businesses, are they exempt as long as they continue the social distancing?
A: The Executive Order 20-112 only applies to businesses that were closed under the previous Essential Business order 20-91. However, all businesses should adopt the appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures outlined in the Executive Order.
Q: Is the 50% capacity for retail governed by the fire marshal’s maximum occupancy number?
A: Yes. If your stated maximum occupancy is 400, your occupancy maximum during phase 1 would be 100. However, Executive Order 20-123 clarifies that the occupancy limit does not include employees.
Q: Does the 50% occupancy limitation inside restaurants and retail include staff?
A: Executive Order 20-123 clarifies that the occupancy limit does not include employees but only customers. Click here for more information on how to calculate the number of seats allowed in a restaurant or food establishment.
Q: If a business has a license controlled by the state, ex. distilleries, can the city or county keep them from opening even if the Governor allows them to reopen in the future?
A: Executive Order 20-112 and subsequent reopen orders do not preempt local governments or local rules that restrict or close businesses or buildings.
Q: I was previously a non-essential business under the Governor’s Essential Services Order 20-91. What do the reopen executive orders (Order #20-112, 20-120 and 20-123) mean for my business?
A: For a quick list of industries opened by the Governor’s Executive Orders in Phase 1, visit here and here. However, the executive orders allowed for local authorities to set firmer restrictions based on local situations, and enforcement is largely left to local authorities. As such, these orders do not preclude local law enforcement from determining that your business is nonessential and requiring you to close. All operating businesses should adhere to social distancing and public health and safety practices to the best of their ability.
Q: How does the May 4 order impact offices reopening to customers?
A: Assuming that the business was not deemed an essential service, the only thing that has been re-opened are retail, museums, libraries, restaurants personal services, such as barbershops and nail salons, gyms and fitness centers. If you are a vacation rental or amusement park, you can work with your local government officials to submit a request and safety plan to the state. Non-essential businesses continue to be open for remote work or if they provide delivery and pick-up services. If you have been open as an essential business, you can continue to be open.
Q: Does the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step order include opening outside farmer’s markets venues?
A: If a business is able to find an exception or ability to be open under the Essential Services list, they are able to be open, however social distancing protocols should be enforced.
Q: Can non-for-profits open at 50% capacity?
A: It depends. First, if the nonprofit was already categorized as “essential,” there shouldn’t be any change to the business other than continuing the implementing of safety protocols and allowing for social distancing when possible. Also, businesses that are able to telework are still encouraged to do so during Phase I. The Governor’s Executive Order (20-112, 20-120 and 20-123) only allows for the reopening of certain establishments, namely retail, restaurants, museums, libraries at a reduced capacity or following social distancing and safety protocols. It does not speak to other businesses that might have deemed themselves “non-essential” at the time. If the nonprofit provides essential services according to the CISA guidance or Miami-Dade guidelines, you are able to be open, however keep in mind that local law enforcement has the ability to enforce business closures if they deem the business as being non-essential.
Q: Are clothing alteration businesses considered “personal services” and unable to re-open in Phase 1?
A: The only way a clothing alteration business is allowed to be open is if they are “essential” under Executive Order 20-91, and if they are not shut down by local law enforcement.
Q: If I am over 65 and wish to return to work, am I allowed to?
A: The Governor’s Executive Order 20-112 Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. plan strongly encourages senior citizens and vulnerable individuals to stay at home and take necessary precautions to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19, with an exception for essential businesses and services. However, we recognize that not all businesses are the same and some industries allow for greater social distancing or don’t interact with customers in person. If you feel safe to return to work, you should work with your employer, assuming that they are allowed to open at this time.
Q: If some of my employees choose not to return to work, do I have to hold their jobs?
A: Because every employment situation is different, we recommend you reach out to your attorney or an employment lawyer (our Chairman, Charles Caulkins from Fisher and Phillips, is a great one!).
Q: Is there employer liability should an employee get COVID-19 after he returns to work? What can be done by the employer to protect himself?
A: Employers could be held liable if employees get ill with COVID-19 after returning to work. This is why the Florida Chamber has called for Congress or the state to protect against what we see as the coming litigation tsunami and pass meaningful liability protections for businesses that try to do the right thing in protecting employees and customers. We recommend that you adopt safety protocols, practice social distancing, and adhere to any federal, state and local guidelines to protect your employees, your customers, and yourself.
Q: Is pet grooming allowed to resume under Phase 1?
A: Executive Order 20-112 allows businesses that were previously designated as essential under Executive Order 20-91 to remain open and allows retail, restaurants, museums and libraries to reopen at 25 percent capacity. A subsequent executive order, 20-120, has allowed for the opening of barbershops, hair salons and nail salons to reopen. At this time, these are the only types of businesses that are allowed to reopen if they were previously closed as a nonessential business.
Q: Are licensed massage therapists allowed to open in Phase 1 under EO 20-120?
A: Currently massage therapists that are licensed by the Florida Department of Health cannot open. However, if the massage therapist stayed open under Miami Order 2(A) “Healthcare providers, including, but not limited to, hospitals, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, urgent care centers, clinics, rehabilitation facilities physical therapists, mental health professionals, psychiatrists, therapists, and pharmacies,” then they would be allowed to continue normal business operations. Please note this classification is subject to the interpretation and approval of your local government and law enforcement authorities.
Q: I own a tattoo shop that falls under DOH with strict sanitation guidelines, not DBPR. There has been no mention of tattoo shops to remain closed in the executive order. The executive order is not clear, but nail salons with less sanitation requirements are open, are we allowed to open?
A: Tattoo shops must remained closed for in-store operations until authorized to open under a new Executive Order.
Q: Which professions does Executive Order 20-120 allow to reopen and provide services?
A: Holders of the following state-issued barber or cosmetology licenses may provide services at establishments that adopt appropriate social distancing and precautionary measures directed in Executive Order 20-120: Barber; Restricted Barber; Cosmetologist; Nail Specialist; Facial Specialist; Full Specialist; Hair Braider; Hair Wrapper; and Body Wrapper. These license holders are permitted to perform the barbering or cosmetology services as authorized by their respective license or registration following DBPR regulations.
Q: Must businesses limit capacity in the barbershop or salon?
A: Barbershops and salons must manage capacity of the premises based on an appointment-only schedule and must allow at least 15 minutes between the conclusion of an appointment and the beginning of the next appointment for proper disinfecting practices. Barbershops and salons should take necessary action to limit gatherings in waiting areas prior to and following appointments to the extent necessary to promote appropriate social distancing. Barbershops and salons are encouraged to adopt means of limiting patrons waiting for appointments, such as calling patrons from a waiting vehicle or outdoor waiting area once an available service station is cleaned, prepared, and ready for service of the next patron. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation has put together the following requirements.
Q: Are any restrictions in effect for the waiting area of a barbershop or cosmetology salon?
A: Barbershops and salons should remove all unnecessary, frequent-touch items, such as magazines, newspapers, service menus, and any other unnecessary paper products and décor from customer service areas. These businesses should take necessary action to limit gatherings of patrons in waiting areas to the extent necessary to promote appropriate social distancing.
Q: The order prohibits group appointments. What constitutes a group for purposes of the order?
A: Executive Order 20-120 restricts appointments to individuals only. Where multiple individuals are seeking joint or co-scheduled appointments to obtain services as a party at the same appointment time, barbershops and salons should restrict the number of individual appointments to the number of available service stations that can be responsibly accommodated while maintaining appropriate social distancing.
Q: Must a barbershop or cosmetology salon limit hours of operation?
A: No. Executive Order 20-120 does not restrict the hours of operation of a barbershop or salon. License holders are encouraged to monitor any local government restrictions that may impact the hours of operation of businesses in their area.
Q: Are licensed professionals required to wear a mask when providing services in the barbershop or salon? How long will the requirement of wearing a mask be in effect?
A: Yes, a mask must be worn by an employee while providing personal services in the barbershop or salon. The requirement to wear a mask while providing services remains in effect until a subsequent order modifies or rescinds this precautionary measure.
Q: Do licensed professionals have to wear a particular type of mask while providing services?
Q: Are licensed professionals required to wear gloves or any other personal protective equipment other than a mask when providing services in the barbershop or salon?
Q: Are patrons required to wear masks while obtaining services in the barbershop or salon?
A: No. However, barbershops and salons are encouraged to consider providing unworn masks to clients for use during their appointment. As a private business, barbershops and salons may adopt their own policies requiring the use of a mask by patrons obtaining services.
Q: Are any other measures expected of barbershops or salons? Are any other measures recommended?
A: Yes. Barbershops and salons should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to reopening, and disinfection practices should be repeated, at minimum, between each day of operation. All surfaces, tools, and linens should be disinfected, even if the items were cleaned before the barbershop or salon was closed.
Barbershops and salons also should take all reasonable steps to ensure that the shop and individual service areas are maintained and operated in a safe and sanitary manner, including particular attention and adherence to existing Florida sanitation regulations applicable to these services and these locations as promulgated in Rule 61G3-19.011 (Barbershop Requirements) and Rule 61G5-20.002 (Salon Requirements), Florida Administrative Code.
Q: How will the restrictions in Executive Order 20-120 be enforced?
A: The Department of Business and Professional Regulation maintains routine inspection practices at licensed barbershops and salons, which will continue during the effect of this order. The Department will incorporate the restrictions of this order in compliance inspection activities.
Q: May a restaurant or food establishment licensed by DBPR under Chapter 509, Florida Statutes, increase their outside food service seating capacity to offset inside seating restrictions due to social distancing requirements?
A: The Division of Hotels & Restaurants will allow an establishment to add food service seating outside, provided the establishment strictly adheres to social distancing requirements currently in effect. The establishment should also consult with their local government agencies to ensure compliance with any applicable local regulations.
Q: During the effect of the Executive Order 20-123, how should restaurants calculate the number of seats allowed inside the establishment? How should restaurants calculate 50% of the indoor seating capacity?
A: The number of seats available to customers inside the establishment will be determined by the number of seats listed on the establishment’s DBPR food service license, divided by half (50%). For example, a restaurant licensed for 80 seats may seat up to 40 guests inside the establishment at any given time, provided that the establishment also adheres to all social distancing requirements that are currently in effect. Outside seating must also adhere to social distancing requirements and any applicable local regulations.
Q: Does an establishment’s number of employees factor into the number of patrons who can be served within the indoor seating area under the provisions of this order?
A: No. For example, a restaurant licensed for 80 seats may seat up to 40 guests inside the establishment at any given time, without regard to the number of employees present at the establishment.
Q: Are restaurants with bar counters that also offer customer dining prohibited from allowing seating at the counter?
A: Yes. Executive Order 20-123 expressly directs that bar counters are to remain closed to seating. However, booths, high top tables, or other seating located in an area in the vicinity of the bar counter or in the bar room of an establishment remains available for seating and service of patrons.
Q: Are food establishments located within entertainment venues (such as bowling alleys, movie theaters, and family recreation centers) allowed to operate, provided that the establishments adhere to the interior seating limitations and social distancing requirements currently in effect?
A: Yes. Food establishments within these venues may operate and should ensure strict adherence to the social distancing and sanitation requirements within the dining areas.
Q: May a food establishment host a reception or other gathering comprised of more than 10 individuals?
A: Yes, provided the establishment seats its guests in groups of no more than 10 individuals per table.
Q: May a licensed location continue to utilize outside space in order to comply with social distancing requirements?
A: Yes, so long as the use of outside space is compliant with local regulations and requirements.
Q: What precautions are recommended for proper separation between guests while seated?
A: Establishments may redesign seating arrangements to ensure at least six (6) feet of separation from table to table. If tables, chairs, booths, or other seating areas cannot be moved, signage or other markings may be used to show that the area is not available for service. Where social distancing of tables is not readily feasible at a six-foot distance, licensed businesses also may utilize a hard-surface partition or other impermeable physical barrier to minimize risks of exposure between guests.
Q: Are food service employees currently required to wear face masks or equivalent face coverings while working with food?
A: Face coverings are not currently required by DBPR for food service employees. The use of face coverings is strongly encouraged in work environments where consistent social distancing is not feasible. In localities where face coverings are required by a local government, employees should adhere to local requirements as directed. Businesses also may independently choose to require employees to wear face coverings during work shifts.
Q: Restaurants can now serve outside, does that also include alcohol?
A: Yes. The goal is for restaurants to return to normal food and beverage consumption but at 50 percent capacity indoors.
Q: Under the Governor’s re-opening order, what are the restrictions about restaurants serving alcohol outside?
A: There are no outdoor restrictions on the consumption of food and beverage, so long as restaurants adopt appropriate outdoor social distancing measures: maintaining a minimum of 6 feet between parties, only seating parties of 10 or fewer, and keeping bar counters closed to seating.
Q: Can a bar that sells food under 51% open up to sell food at 50% occupancy?
A: Executive Order 20-112 and subsequent re-open orders require bars, pubs and nightclubs that derive more than 50% of gross revenues from the sale of alcoholic beverages to remain closed at this time.
Q: Are there any additional restrictions on restaurants which are buffet only?
A: The Governor’s Executive Order (20-112) does not distinguish between types of restaurants, however all restaurants should review the mandatory measures and best practices from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and other safety protocols.
Q: Can I visit or travel to a family member?
A: Yes, if caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend.
Q: May I exercise outside or participate in recreational activities?
A: Yes, if consistent with social distancing guidelines as published by the CDC.
Q: Are gyms open?
A: Beginning Monday, May 18, gyms and fitness centers are allowed to reopen at 50 percent of building capacity with proper social distancing and adequate sanitation supplies to ensure cleaning of machines and surfaces between each use. Gyms are also required to follow safety measures established by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Q: Is there a timeline for gyms and hair salons to reopen?
A: Executive Order 20-120 allows hair salons to reopen beginning Monday, May 11th. Executive Order 20-123 allows gyms to reopen beginning Monday, May 18th.
Q: Can I go to a professional sporting event?
A: No, sporting venues may operate but without spectators.
Q: May churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship hold services?
A: Yes. The Governor’s Executive Order 20-91 identified attending religious services at churches, synagogues and places of worship as an open activity. While that order did not place restrictions directly on any building or venue, many local orders have done so. Any building or venue that is open should continue to follow appropriate social distancing and sanitation procedures.
The Florida Department of Health encourages them to follow CDC guidance specific to faith organizations.
Q: Are state parks and beaches open?
A: The Governor’s Executive Orders have not closed beaches and this is a decision left to local government.
The Governor and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection announced that, beginning May 4, 2020, Florida State Parks will re-open access to trails, and some day use areas, with limited facilities. Visitors will be asked to practice proper social distancing and to limit group size to 10 or less and to stay six feet apart. Parks will remain open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Visit the Department’s website at www.floridastateparks.org for the latest information.
Q: May childcare centers remain open?
A: Yes, if currently able to open and as long as they follow proper social distancing protocols. Florida Department of Education has prioritized children of medical professionals and first responders working at businesses or operations that are essential services, to the extent those childcare centers adhere to social distancing.
Q: Are museums and libraries open?
A: Museums and libraries may open at no more than 50 percent of their building occupancy as long as their local government allows. Interactive shared exhibits, like child play areas, remain closed.
Q: Will schools reopen?
A: No, distance learning will continue. However child care facilities remained an essential business prior to the order and that has not changed under the Governor’s latest announcement.
Q: Will I be allowed to visit a relative or friend in a nursing home or correctional institution?
A: No, visitors will continue to be prohibited although the Governor signaled that could change based on testing advances and the successes of other states in reopening these types of facilities to visitors.
Q: If I am older than 65, am I allowed to leave my house?
A: Vulnerable populations, including those over the age of 65 or those with preexisting conditions, are strongly encouraged to stay at home and continue social distancing and limit interactions outside the home.
Q: Are parks, trails and golf courses now open for outdoor recreational activity?
A: These were never closed by the previous Executive Order, only by local ordinances or regulations. Many outdoor recreation facilities previously closed in the tri-county area reopened recently. Check with your local government first.
Q: Are zoos allowed to reopen?
A: Zoos were added to the essential services list following Executive Order 20-91 with the approval of the State Coordinating Officer because care of animals was deemed essential.
Q: Will a large Orlando resort be able to host a large convention in mid-June?
A: Amusement parks are allowed to reopen with the permission of the state and must submit a re-opening plan that includes a date for re-opening, guidelines to keep staff and guests safe and an endorsement letter from the County Mayor, or in the absence of a county mayor, from the City Mayor and County Administrator.
Q: Are theme parks, aquatic centers, movie theaters etc. allowed to re-open?
A: According to Executive Order 20-123, amusement parks are allowed to reopen with the permission of the state and must submit a re-opening plan that includes a date for re-opening, guidelines to keep staff and guests safe and an endorsement letter from the County Mayor, or in the absence of a county mayor, from the City Mayor and County Administrator. Movie theaters remain closed at this time, as well as any other businesses that were closed under the previous Essential Services Order (20-91) and not reopened under a subsequent order.
Q: Can bowling centers re-open?
A: Under Executive Orders 20-112 and 20-123, only restaurants, retail, museums and libraries are able to reopen at this time at limited capacity. If a business was already an essential business, as determined by the CISA guidance and Miami-Dade executive orders, they are able to remain open during Phase I of the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan without any capacity limitations, however these types of businesses are also encouraged to continue safety protocols.
Q: Are ice rinks allowed to be open during the phase one?
A: Executive Order 20-112 continues to encourage exercising outside or participating in recreational activities. However, indoor facilities, such as gyms and fitness centers, may operate at 50% capacity so long as they follow social distancing and sanitation guidelines.
Q: Can you now go into coffee shops to pick up a morning cup of Joe?
A: Starting Monday coffee shops can open at 50% occupancy on top of take-out and delivery services that were previously authorized under Safer at Home Order.
Q: Will pools, playgrounds and other summer activities be allowed to re-open in the next phase?
A: Activities not outlined in Phase 1 of the Governor’s Executive Order will be addressed in future re-opening decisions when key data and health metrics ensure it is safe to do so.
Q: Are local authorities allowed to adopt requirements directly on businesses, operations or venues, including buildings, beaches and parks, that may be stricter than the Governor’s Executive Order?
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: 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 open service.
Q: How many phases are there?
A: The White House guidance, which Florida’s guidance is built off of, has three phases.
Q: When will Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade open?
A: The earlier Executive Order tied those counties together at the mutual agreement of local officials, and the Governor is following the same process now as we re-open.
The Governor issued Executive Order 20-120 that allows Palm Beach County to begin a Phase 1 reopening on Monday, May 11th. Executive Order 20-122 allows Miami-Dade County and Broward County to begin a Phase 1 reopening on Monday, May 18th.
Q: Can we expect legislation to protect businesses from frivolous COVID related lawsuits?
A: The Florida Chamber is working with our partners in the state legislature, at the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform and at the Florida Justice Reform Institute on draft legislation and is advocating for a legislative solution that limits liability exposure for businesses as a result of COVID 19 at both the federal and state levels.
Q: I gave my tenant two months’ notice on March 5, prior to any COVID-19 mandate, to vacate my home since I wish to sell the property. I cannot afford two mortgages, and they have not paid any rent since March 1 for their month to month lease. If they were asked to leave prior to all of the COVID-19, I feel it should be honored. What can I do under the current Executive Orders?
A: Executive Order 20-94 suspended eviction proceedings due to nonpayment of rent until May 17th, and was extended until June 2nd in Executive Order 20-121. However, nothing in these Executive Orders state that the tenant does not owe the rent. Additionally, many mortgage lenders have been encouraged to work with their customers during this time and mortgage foreclosure proceedings have also been suspended by Executive Orders 20-94 and 20-121.
Related COVID-19 Questions:
Q: What is the state doing to help during the Coronavirus pandemic?
A: The state has been laser-focused on containing the virus, flattening the curve and ensuring that Floridians remain safe, in a way that will quickly allow Florida’s economy to recover when this is over. For a list of state actions to respond to COVID-19, click here: State of Florida COVID-19 Updates
Q: What does this mean for the economy?
A: See the latest economic analysis from the Florida Chamber’s Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish by clicking here. Additionally, you can always visit The Florida Scorecard to track key metrics from across the state and across the 6 pillars. Finally, the Florida Chamber is already putting a plan in place to quickly get the economy back on track after this is all over.
Q: I believe I might have contracted COVID-19 back in January but my body resolved it. When will Florida have access to the antibody test to determine if we had it and if we have the antibodies to help others?
A: Currently Florida is working on obtaining antibody tests, but there is not a timeline for when they will become available. You can review testing updates and progress by visiting the Florida Health Coronavirus Response page here.
Q: I’ve heard that if a business receives a PPP loan, there’s a process the business can follow to rehire employees to avoid a reduction in the amount of loan forgiveness, including reporting employees to the state unemployment office. Is this true and if so, what do businesses need to do?
A: Businesses that receive the PPP loan are able to rehire employees or restore salary and wage levels by June 30, 2020 to avoid a reduction in wages or FTEs for the purposes of loan forgiveness. The Small Business Administration recently issued guidance on how businesses can prevent loan forgiveness amounts from being reduced if employees decline an offer of reemployment after being furloughed, laid off or hours reduced. The business must make a good faith, written offer to rehire the employee or restore hours to the employee for the same salary or wages and same number of hours. If the employee rejects returning to work, the business must maintain records documenting the offer and its rejection. The SBA also requires the business to inform the state unemployment insurance office (in this instance, DEO) of the employee’s rejected offer of reemployment within 30 days of the employee’s rejection. Employers can do this by logging into the CONNECT Portal or calling the Employer Contact Line at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity at 1-833-352-7759.
Q: Where can I find out more information about the federal small business loans?
A: Here are some of our go-to resources to explain the different programs included in recently passed federal legislation known as the CARES Act (or phase 3) and find out more information: Paycheck Protection FAQ, FL Chamber Paycheck Protection Program Guide, Treasury Department PPP Guidance and Application and Economic Injury Disaster Loans . In addition, small businesses should talk to their lender or CPA to determine which loan might work best for them.
Q: Where can restaurants find guidance on if payroll protection protects employees that operate largely on tips?
A: The payroll protection program does consider tipped employees. Of course, businesses should consult a qualified lender prior to making any decisions about applying for a loan.
Q: Were local and state chambers of commerce included in this Paycheck Protection Program?
A: Not in this round. While the Florida Chamber advocated for inclusion of 501(c)(6) organizations, qualifying nonprofits were limited to those that organize as a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) (veterans groups). The Florida Chamber continues to advocate for (c)(6) organizations to be included in future legislative packages. However, 501(c)6 organizations are eligible to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
Q: How can I apply for the federal Paycheck Protection Program?
A: You can apply through any SBA lender in the state. You can find the application and documentation needed on the US Treasury Website.
Q: Are there resources available for how small businesses can engage with customers online, maintain relationships, etc.
A: SCORE has a great number of free resources on its website on how to run a business online, how to manage cash flow, and other questions during COVID 2019. Additionally, SCORE has business mentors and the Florida SBDC has consultants on staff to answer business questions. Think of them as the first responders for small businesses right now.
Q: Is there a consideration by the state to forgive the Bridge Loan?
A: At this point, there has not been any talk about loan forgiveness for the state bridge loan. Looking at the history of the loan, this would be unprecedented. Typically, these are smaller dollar loans to “bridge” the time until further resources come in, such as insurance money or federal resources. Of course, this is an unprecedented time in history. The bridge loan is currently maxed out, but those that have been approved will not have to pay any interest for the first year of the loan.
Q: What grants do I qualify for as a small one-man business operation?
A: One-man businesses qualify for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program. Note that these are not necessarily grants, but are loans that might have grant and loan forgiveness provisions.
Q: I have 2 rental properties, however due to college closures and COVID-19 travel restrictions, I have had all of my Air BNBs cancel and I have no rental income. Am I able to receive a grant for Economic Injury Disaster Relief?
A: It depends on if you created a business entity for the purposes of renting these properties. I would consult with a CPA or accountant to determine if you are eligible. In addition, see this EIDL guidance prepared by our partners at the US Chamber of Commerce.
Q. I am having issues applying online for unemployment compensation. Where can I find the application to mail in?
A. You can download and fill out a paper application to apply for reemployment assistance here. This application can be mailed to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, P.O. Box 5350, Tallahassee, FL 32314-5350.
Q: We were told that if your pay is cut or hours reduced you can still apply for unemployment but some people have tried and the system says they are not eligible.
A: There’s a lot that has changed in the last 2.5 weeks and that has required both changes on the application side for the Florida Department of Opportunity (DEO) as well as a need to significantly increase staff laid off or furloughed employees, and employees with reduced hours should refer to the FAQ from DEO. Employees who were denied are able to appeal the department’s decision. Additionally, employers that know they are going to be reducing hours or move to a Short Term Compensation system should apply on the employer log-in side of the CONNECT system (the state’s online unemployment system). If you notice any patterns, please let Carolyn Johnson know at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will report these to DEO.
Q: I can’t get a hold of anyone to apply for unemployment assistance? What should I do?
A: No one could have predicted the need and volume for reemployment assistance that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. But there’s good news! Governor Ron DeSantis announced today that all state agencies will begin processing unemployment assistance claims to clear the backlog and meet the increased need for unemployment compensation benefits. The Department has created an online form if you are having trouble getting through on the phone lines. Additionally, the Department is taking paper applications for unemployment compensation. If you have a specific question, you can visit the FL Department of Economic Opportunity FAQs.
Q: Florida unemployment compensation is available for reduction in hours (partial unemployment). Will an individual get the full $600 federal supplement increase if they apply (and qualify) for partial unemployment?
A: Yes under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and for the Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits (assuming they don’t make more than $275). No under Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (only applies to total unemployment).
Q: If someone with reduced hours would get the $600 if they were technically eligible for partial unemployment (as they have experienced a reduction in hours) but they would not receive a weekly benefit allowance (WBA) in any given week because the hours worked/wages earned were enough that the calculation of WBA would still be zero. Would they still get the $600 then? (but only the $600 because the WBA calculation is zero). Or, if in any given week the WBA is zero because they got enough hours in that week (but still reduced from their full time status), they also don’t get the $600?
A: If they earned more than $275 a week, they would not be eligible for partial unemployment under state law and would not be eligible for the $600.
Q: I’m am a Licensed Florida State Dealer selling used Manufactured/Mobile Homes on Leased Land only. I have sales agents that are 1099 only. Are we considered essential workers and are we eligible for unemployment help since our business has died?
A: Unfortunately, 1099 employees are not eligible for unemployment compensation, however they might be eligible for either the Economic Injury Disaster Loan or Paycheck Protection Program. While providing individuals and families with ready access to available housing is deemed essential, you can verify your eligibility as an essential business through the Department of Health or Division of Emergency Management.
Q: I work in a hospital and when a senior citizen follows EO 20-91 Section 1 (A and B) to stay home, do they use paid time off or apply for unemployment for the loss of pay?
A: Our partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce put together this helpful employer guide on paid leave program changes resulting from federal COVID-response legislation. The exemptions section beginning on page three includes links to US Department of Labor guidance specifically for health care businesses.
Q: I have spent hours applying for unemployment only to see that they have denied my claim. I am a self-employed medical sales rep of elective surgery devices and due to COVID-19 my income is 0 beginning March 2020. Who can I speak to about receiving benefits and to understand why I have been denied?
A: The Department of Economic Opportunity’s website has many resources that can provide assistance. Their online Reemployment Assistance Contact Form is here and directions on how to file an unemployment appeal can be found here. The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance covers many self-employed individuals once states are able to start disbursing those funds.
Q: How do I cancel my unemployment checks?
A: You should be able to cancel your unemployment through the CONNECT site or by calling 1-800-204-2418.
Q: If I do not return to work citing medical reasons or higher risk, does this put my unemployment payments at risk?
A: Generally, to be eligible for unemployment you have to be willing and able to work. For example, you couldn’t take a vacation and claim benefits for that week of unemployment. However, under the CARES Act, there are limited exceptions for medical reasons where persons are able to receive unemployment payments under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program. The US Department of Labor has issued these guidelines on eligibility. If someone does not meet the qualifications for unemployment compensation, they might fall under Employee Paid Leave benefits available under the CARES Act.
Q: Phase 2 federal legislation made changes to employee benefits such as FMLA and sick leave. As an employer, where can I find out more information about those changes?
A: Our partners at the law firm of Dean Mead put together this helpful tutorial for employees and employers.