by St. Pete Chamber Public Policy Chair: Anne Pollack, Fletcher Fischer Pollack PL
EO 20-91 provides that certain individuals are ordered to stay home and take all measures to limit risk of exposure to the virus. These individuals include “senior citizens” (a term which is not defined) and those with “a significant underlying medical condition.” Examples of those conditions are listed: chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease.
EO 20-91 also requires all individuals to “limit movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.”
The list of “Essential Services” is long and encompasses those services listed by the Department of Homeland Security, found here, as well as those additional services identified by Miami Dade County and listed in Executive Order 20-89.
Businesses that can provide delivery, carry-out or curbside service outside of the business to the extent practicable are encouraged to keep doing so, to the extent practicable.
Activities that are specifically listed in the Order as Essential Services include:
- Attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship
- Participating in recreational activities (consistent with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running, or swimming
- Taking care of pets
- Caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend.
Local Tampa Bay counties, including Hillsborough County and Pinellas County had previously issued their own “Safer at Home” orders in late March. A summary of the Pinellas County order can be found here. Information on the Hillsborough County order can be found here. These orders are both modified by the Statewide order issued by the Governor. Executive Order 20-92, makes clear that EO-91 supersedes any conflicting action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19. The Order modifies these local orders in several ways:
- The local orders allowed the provision of non-essential services so long as those services were being provided in compliance with CDC social distancing guidelines. If the services are not on the lists identified in EO 20-91, they may not continue operating outside of home.
- The local orders had included religious services in the list of public and private gatherings that could not occur in groups of greater than 10 individuals, with social distancing measures in place. EO 20-91 appears to allow religious services of any size to gather together and does not specifically require social distancing.
Other local regulations do not appear to conflict with EO 20-91, and thus are still in force. For instance, in Pinellas County,
- Public beaches and parks are closed to the public and concessions at these facilities are closed.
- All bars, restaurants and nightclubs (establishments deriving more than 50 percent of their gross revenue from alcohol sales) must cease serving alcohol by 5 p.m.
CDC recommended notices to be posted at your business can be found here.
In an effort to minimize the economic disruption we are all struggling with, the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and others are encouraging businesses and individuals generally to abide by the restrictions and avoid the more serious orders and economic effects of an even stricter shutdown.
If you are allowed to operate within the bounds of the Order, but your landlord has shut down your building, or you are otherwise stopped from operating your business, it is vital that you get everything in writing. Doing so can protect your rights in many ways, as it gives you proof that you don’t have physical access to your workspace. This can be used when making a claim to your insurance company, in your application for federal, state or local assistance, and to the courts should you have a lease or other dispute. Requiring that you get the restriction be memorialized in writing may have the added benefit of encouraging the landlord to let you in, rather than block you, and potentially lose rent as a result.
Further information on State orders and COVID-19 resources can be found here. Pinellas County’s resources and orders can be found here. Information on Hillsborough County emergency management resources and efforts can be found here.