At a press conference this afternoon, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced he was shutting down bars, ending classroom instruction at universities for the semester, ordering a limit of 10 people at beach gatherings and restricting restaurant occupancy to 50 percent.
It was also reported that the number of Florida coronavirus cases increased to 192.
The bar closures are effective today at 5 p.m. Restaurants will stay open for now, but DeSantis said he is encouraging people to order take out instead of dining in.
“This is the floor for Florida for the foreseeable future,” DeSantis said.
He also took the step to limiting universities to online classes.
“We think that the universities are equipped to be able to handle the remote learning,” DeSantis said.
He also limited the size of groups on the beaches.
“What we’re going to be doing is simply - for the statewide floor for beaches - is applying the CDC guidance of no group on a beach more than 10 and you have to have distance apart if you’re gonna be out there, so that will apply statewide,” DeSantis said.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more details are known.
Updated at 2:50 PM: Here is a copy of the Executive Order
STATE OF FLORIDA
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 20-68
(Emergency Management - COVID-19)
WHEREAS, Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a severe acute respiratory illness that can spread among humans through respiratory transmission and presents with symptoms similar to those of influenza; and
WHEREAS, on March 1, 2020, I issued Executive Order number 20-51 directing the Florida Department of Health to issue a Public Health Emergency; and
WHEREAS, on March 1, 2020, the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer declared a Public Health Emergency exists in the State of Florida as a result of COVID-19, and
WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-52 declaring a state of emergency for the entire State of Florida as a result of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, President Donald J. Trump and the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention (“CDC”) issued the 15 Days to Slow the Spread guidance advising individuals to adopt far-reaching social distancing measures, such as working from home and avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, and
WHEREAS, as Governor, I am responsible for meeting the dangers presented to this state and its people by this emergency.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RON DESANTIS, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section (1)(a) of the Florida Constitution, Chapter 252, Florida Statutes, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order to take immediate effect:
Section 1. Bars, Pubs and Nightclubs
A. Pursuant to sections 252.36(5)(g)-(h), Florida Statutes, any licensee authorized to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises that derive more than 50% of its gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages shall suspend all sale of alcoholic beverages for thirty days from the date of this order, effective at 5 p.m. today, March 17, 2020.
B. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation shall utilize its authorities under Florida law to further implement and enforce the provisions of this Section and shall take additional measures with respect to bars, pubs and nightclubs as necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare.
Pursuant to section 252.36(5)(k), Florida Statutes, I direct parties accessing public beaches in the State of Florida to follow the CDC guidance by limiting theirs gatherings to no more than 10 persons, distance themselves from other parties by 6 feet, and support beach closures at the discretion of local authorities.
A. Pursuant to section 252.36(5)(g), Florida Statutes, a restaurant shall immediately limit its occupancy to 50% of its current building occupancy.
B. Pursuant to section 252.36(5)(g), Florida Statutes, a restaurant shall follow the CDC guidance by ensuring, at minimum, a 6-foot distance between any group of patrons and limiting parties to no more than 10 individuals.
C. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation shall ensure all restaurants implement employee screening and prohibit any employee from entering the restaurant premises if they meet any of the criteria listed below:
1) Any person infected with COVID-19 who has not had two consecutive negative test results separated by 24 hours;
2) Any person showing, presenting signs or symptoms of, or disclosing the presence of a respiratory infection, including cough, fever, shortness of breath or sore throat;
3) Any person who has been in contact with any person(s) known to be infected with COVID-19, who has not yet tested negative for COVID-19 within the past 14 days;
4) Any person who traveled through any airport within the past 14 days; or
5) Any person who traveled on a cruise ship within the past 14 days.
D. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation shall utilize its authorities under Florida law to further implement and enforce the provisions of this Section and shall take additional measures with respect to bars, pubs and nightclubs as necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare.
For purposes of this section, "restaurant" shall include any Food Service Establishment, licensed under Chapter 500, Florida Statutes, and Public Food Service Establishment, licensed under Chapter 509, Florida Statutes.
This Executive Order shall expire thirty days from this date unless extended.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Florida to f fixed, at Tallahassee, this 17th day of March 2020.