COVID-19 Response (have a question… ask the Florida Chamber below)
Key Guidance and Direction
Phase 3: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Executive Order
Phase 2: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Executive Order
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.
Phase 3: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Executive Order (20-244):
Q: What phase of re-opening is Florida in?
A: Pursuant to Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-244, all counties in Florida are in Phase 3 of the Governor’s Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery effective September 25, 2020.
Q: When does the Governor’s Phase 3 Executive Order take effect?
A: The Governor’s Executive Order (20-244) to enter Phase 3 took effect Friday, September 25, 2020.
Q: Is the “Safer at Home” Order over?
A: Individuals are still encouraged to follow appropriate social distancing and safety protocols and are encouraged to avoid congregating in groups larger than 50. However, Executive Order 20-244 supersedes all prior Executive Orders and reopens all businesses.
Q: How does the Phase 3 Executive Order impact local mask ordinances?
A: Local governments are still able to maintain or pass local mask ordinances and the CDC and Department of Health still encourages the use of masks whenever not inside the home. The executive order suspends fines and penalties associated with COVID-19 on individuals. However, based on the plain text of the executive order, it appears that businesses could be subjected to fines if they do not enforce local mask mandates.
Q: Does this order (20-244) apply to all Florida counties?
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: Nothing in EO-244 preempts or supersedes a non-COVID-19 municipal or county order. However, no COVID-19 emergency ordinance may prevent an individual from working or from operating a business.
Q: What does Executive Order 20-213 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 continue to operate. 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: Are there any restrictions on a person’s movements or interactions?
A: No. Individuals over 65 or with underlying medical conditions are strongly encouraged to avoid crowds and take measures to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Q: Can individuals visit nursing homes and long-term care facilities?
A: On September 1, FDEM Executive Order 20-009 lifted the visitation restrictions for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care facilities. However visitors are required to wear PPE pursuant to CDC guidelines and facilities must meet certain criteria. For more information, visit HERE.
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?
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 (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut)?
A: No. Executive Order 20-192 rescinds the requirement that people traveling into Florida must isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days.
Q: Are there any exceptions to having to self-isolate after traveling into the state?
A: Not anymore. With the Governor’s Executive Order 20-192, required isolation when traveling into the state has been rescinded for all.
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: Yes, in certain counties. Counties may seek approval to operate vacation rentals by submitting a written request and county vacation rental safety plan to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Many counties have approved plans in place. Visit DBPR’s website for additional information.
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?
Q: What hotel and motel restrictions are still in place under the new Executive Order?
A: Hotels and motels are allowed to continue operations because they were deemed essential under Executive Order 20-91. 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: Is there a guideline that suggests the amount of time between guests for hotels and condos? What is the official regulation concerning hotel “air out” time.
A: The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation has provided recommended safety measures and best practices for vacation rentals and our partners at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association have compiled this guidance for lodging establishments.
Q: Does the stay at home order expire today? Are non-essential businesses able to bring employees back to work?
A: Executive Order 20-139 supersedes the Essential Services and Activities Orders 20-91 and 20-92. This means that previously designated non-essential businesses are able to bring employees back to work if they have not already been re-opened under a previous Executive Order. Businesses should refer to CDC, OSHA and other health and safety guidelines to determine the most appropriate way to return employees back to work. Executive Order 20-139 continues to encourage social distancing and safety protocols and avoid congregating groups in more than 50 persons. As of September 4, 2020, and September 14, 2020, Executive Order 20-139 applies to Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward Counites.
Q: Can I open my business?
A: During Phase 1, restaurants, retail, libraries, museums, amusement parks, professional sports, nail salons, barbershops, cosmetology and fitness centers and gyms were allowed to open with restrictions and by following best practices and guidelines. Beginning on Friday, June 5th, businesses such as bars, entertainment facilities (bowling alleys, movie theaters), tattoo parlors, acupuncture and tanning salons, and pari-mutuel facilities are allowed to reopen pursuant to Executive Order 20-139 and any relevant federal and state guidelines. Executive Order 20-139 also allows for the re-opening of other businesses; however, businesses should consult with CDC, OSHA and other health and safety guidelines to determine the most appropriate way to return employees to work. Nightclubs at this time are not included under EO 20-139. However, beginning September 14, bars are allowed to serve alcohol at 50% indoor capacity according to DBPR Emergency Order 2020-10.
Businesses can consult Executive Orders 20-112, 20-120 and 20-123, 20-131 and 20-139 for any conditions, like capacity limitations, that are required for 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: Review the requirements of the Governor’s Executive Order 20-112, 20-120, 20-122, 20-123, 20-131 and 20-139. Also regularly review any guidance that has been provided from state and federal regulatory agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
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 20-123, 20-131 and 20-139. 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. Additionally, Department of Health guidance requires masks for tattoo parlors, acupuncture establishments, tanning salons and massage establishments for licensed employees or employees of licensed facilities. Customers, employees and employers should consult CDC guidance and relevant state guidance. Some local governments may also require the use of masks.
Q: Are employers in Miami-Dade County required to provide masks for employees? Also, can we charge for them?
A: We recommend you consult with an employment attorney on whether you are required to pay for your employees PPE and if you can charge for them.
Q: If a restaurant 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: 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: 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 does the latest reopen executive order (Order # 20-139) mean for my business?
A: Executive Order 20-139 supersedes Executive Order 20-91 and 20-92, allowing previously designated non-essential businesses to re-open. However, local authorities may 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, and should consult CDC, OSHA and other relevant guidance while re-opening.
Q: How does the June 3 order impact offices reopening to customers?
A: Executive Order 20-139 allows offices to re-open to customers, however social distancing and safety protocols remain in force. Offices opening to customers should do so in a manner that is a safe and should consider the guidance from the CDC and OSHA to create a safe re-opening plan.
Q: Does the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step order include opening outside farmer’s markets venues?
A: Farmer’s markets may open under the Phase 2 Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step order but should encourage social distancing and follow safety protocols.
Q: Can non-for-profits open?
A: Non-profits are able to re-open at full capacity, however should follow safety protocols and practice social distancing.
Q: Are clothing alteration businesses considered “personal services” and unable to re-open in Phase 2?
A: Clothing alternation businesses are able to re-open under Executive Order 20-139 but should follow social distancing guidelines and safety protocols.
Q: If I am over 65 and wish to return to work, am I allowed to?
A: The Governor’s Executive Order 20-112 and 20-139 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?
Q: Are licensed massage therapists allowed to open?
A: The Florida Department of Health issued an update on May 27th that states massage therapists and massage establishments licensed under Chapter 480 are health care practitioners and therefore allowed to open if local authorities also allow them to reopen. The update also includes links to helpful guidelines and safety protocols for practicing massage therapy during COVID-19. Executive Order 20-139 also explicitly states that personal services such as massage are allowed to operate following the Department of Health guidelines.
Q: Are there any current restrictions on conventions to be held in the State? We are planning to hold our annual convention on Amelia Island in August. We expect 125-150 people in attendance.
A: Florida is still in “Phase 2” of re-opening under the Governor’s Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan to reopen Florida, therefore it is still recommended that groups no larger than 50 congregate. However, if you feel that you can safely hold your annual convention, we recommend reaching out to local government officials to share your convention plans and how you plan to operate safely.
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: Can an independently contracted salon in a nursing home assisted living facility reopen?
A: It depends on the clientele of the salon. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are still not allowed to have visitors under the current phase, however if the clientele are residents of the facility, the salon should be able to open provided they follow the Department of Business & Professional Regulations guidelines for salons. Keep in mind that local law enforcement has the ability to interpret this differently and close the salon.
Q: Which professions does Executive Order 20-139 affect?
A: Holders of the following state-issued licenses or permits may provide services at establishments that adopt appropriate social distancing and precautionary measures directed in Executive Order 20-139: personal care services, including but not limited to tattooing, body piercing, tanning, acupuncture and massage (medical and non-medical). These license holders are permitted to perform the personal care service as authorized by their respective license or permit. Effective 8/31, these establishments are allowed to resume operation in Palm Beach County.
Q: Must businesses limit capacity in the personal care service establishment or salon?
A: Personal care service establishments 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. Establishments 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. Establishments 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 ready for the next patron.
Q: Are any restrictions in effect for the waiting area of a personal care service establishment or salon?
A: Personal care service establishments 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 20-139 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, personal care service establishments 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 personal care service establishment or salon limit hours of operation?
A: No. Executive Order 20-139 does not restrict the hours of operation of a personal care service establishment or salon. License and permit holders are encouraged to monitor any local government restrictions that may impact the hours of operation of businesses in their area.
Q: Are service providers required to wear a mask when providing services in the personal care service establishment or salon? How long will the requirement of wearing a mask be in effect?
A: Yes, a mask must be worn by the service provider while providing personal services in the establishment or salon. The requirement to wear a mask while providing services remains in effect until a subsequent guidance modifies or rescinds this precautionary measure.
Q: Are service providers required to wear a particular type of mask while providing services?
Q: Are patrons required to wear masks while obtaining services in the personal care service establishment or salon?
A: No. However, personal care service establishments and salons are encouraged to consider providing unworn masks to clients for use during their appointment. As a private business, establishments and salons may adopt their own policies requiring the use of a mask by patrons obtaining services.
Q: Are any other measures expected of personal care service establishments or salons? Are any other measures recommended?
A: Yes. Personal care service establishments and salons should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to reopening, and disinfection practices should be repeated, at minimum, between each day of operation. Disinfect all tools, equipment, and surfaces, including counters, tables, and chairs, even if the items were cleaned before the establishment or salon was closed. Establishments 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.
Q: What does EO-244 mean for restaurants?
A: Executive Order 20-244 provides that restaurants may not be limited by a local COVID-19 emergency order to less than 50% of their indoor capacity. If a restaurant is limited to less than 100% of its indoor capacity, such COVID-19 emergency order must satisfy the following: 1. quantify the economic impact of each limitation or requirements on those restaurants; and 2. explain why each limitation or requirement is necessary for public health.
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.
Q: How should restaurants calculate the number of seats allowed inside the establishment?
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.
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: No. DBPR Emergency Order 2020-10 allows for alcoholic consumption as long as it is seated service.
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?
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: Are bars and nightclubs allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity under Phase 3?
A: Executive Order 20-244, or Phase 3, only speaks to capacity at restaurants. Local governments can still restrict capacity at bars and nightclubs, however they cannot close them completely with a COVID-19 emergency ordinance.
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: Now that bars are re-opened, can I still grab to go cocktails in sealed containers?
A: Yes, Executive Order 20-244 maintains to go alcohol sales at this time by only removing the restrictions from previous executive orders, not permissions such as to go alcohol sales.
Q: Can I visit or travel to a family member?
A: Yes. Individuals should continue to practice appropriate social distancing. Visitation to long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, continues to be prohibited.
Q: May I exercise outside or participate in recreational activities?
A: Yes, if consistent with social distancing guidelines as published by the CDC and Department of Health.
Q: Are gyms open?
A: Yes. Beginning Friday, June 5th, gyms and fitness centers are allowed to open at full 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 allowed hair salons to reopen beginning Monday, May 11th. Executive Order 20-123 allowed gyms to reopen beginning Monday, May 18th.
Q: Can I go to a professional sporting event?
A: Professional sporting events and sports teams are welcome in Florida and may open and operate for games, events, competitions and training. Floridians are encouraged to reach out to the entity or organization hosting a professional sporting event for additional information.
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. 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 are open at full capacity as long as their local government allows. Interactive shared exhibits, like child play areas, remain closed.
Q: Will schools reopen?
A: Florida’s physical K-12 classrooms will remain closed until at least the Fall semester, however remote curriculum throughout the summer will still be available. Child care facilities remained an essential business prior to the order and that has not changed under the Governor’s latest executive order.
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 has 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. Beginning Friday, June 5th, movie theaters are allowed to re-open at 50 percent capacity while following social distancing and sanitation guidelines, per Executive Order 20-139.
Q: Can bowling centers re-open?
A: According to Executive Order 20-139, bowling centers may re-open following sanitation and social distancing guidelines.
Q: Are ice rinks allowed to be open?
A: Ice rinks are allowed to reopen but should follow social distancing guidelines and safety protocols and consult any appropriate regulatory guidance before re-opening.
Q: Can you now go into coffee shops to pick up a morning cup of Joe?
A: Yes, 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: Under Governor DeSantis’ EO 20-131, outline, organized youth activities may operate, including youth sports teams and leagues, youth clubs and programs and childcare. Summer camps and youth recreation camps may also operate. However Phase 2 applies to all counties in Florida except Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Those three counties must seek approval to enter Phase 2 with a written request. Outdoor public spaces are able to reopen, however consult with all local regulations as well. Additionally, EO 20-139 recommends all persons in Florida to avoid congregating in groups larger than 50.
Q: Are Elks, Moose, Rotary, women’s clubs, fraternal organizations, etc. permitted to open?
A: Yes, however if licensed under Chapter 500 or 509 of Florida Statute as a restaurant or food establishment, they should follow the current limitations under Executive Order 20-139. Both the Florida Department of Health, and Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation have published information on how to re-open safely.
Q: Are open air professional photography sessions allowed to resume?
A: Yes as long as social distancing and proper health and safety protocols are maintained.
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?
A: Nothing in EO-244 preempts or supersedes a non-COVID-19 municipal or county order. However, no COVID-19 emergency ordinance may prevent an individual from working or from operating a business. If a restaurant is limited to less than 100% of its indoor capacity, such COVID-19 local emergency order must satisfy the following: 1. quantify the economic impact of each limitation or requirements on those restaurants; and 2. explain why each limitation or requirement is necessary for public health.
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: Palm Beach has been approved to move into Phase 2 effective September 4, 2020 per Executive Order 20-214. Miami-Dade and Broward Counties were approved to move into Phase 2 effective September 14, 2020 per Executive Order 20-223.
Beginning 8/31, Palm Beach County has obtained approval from the governor’s office to reopen tattooing, body piercing and tanning establishments as long as they follow the appropriate safety guidelines outlined by the Department of Health. Additionally, beginning 8/31 in Miami-Dade County, restaurants can return to 50% indoor seating capacity and casinos are allowed to reopen with food and drink consumption allowed in specific designated areas.
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 July 1 by Executive Order 20-137. 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, 20-121 and 20-137.
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.