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Florida State of Emergency: How Much Power Does the State Have?

March 30, 2020

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52 on March 9th, declaring a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). The executive order pertains to all of Florida and gives a range of special powers to state and local government agencies as it regards to COVID-19. As of now, the state of emergency is set to expire on April 8, 2020. Many are wondering how much power this executive order gives the state and if there are legal repercussions for not abiding by it.

State of Emergency In Florida In Response to COVID-19

What Does the Executive Order Encompass?

Executive order number 20-52 provides state and local government agencies broad powers normally not available to them. This order appoints Florida Director of Emergency Management as the State Coordinating Officer during the state of emergency. It provides the power to suspend any statute, order, or rule that interferes with the response or recovery efforts regarding COVID-19. State and local government agencies are also allowed to suspend budgetary and regulatory rules that affect purchasing, travel, employment conditions, and employer compensation. State and local governments may waive formalities and procedures when entering contracts, hiring temporary workers, renting equipment, and performing public work that is necessary for regards to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The order also gives the state power to waive the license requirements for out-of-state health workers who work through the Red Cross. Additionally, pharmacists are allowed to dispense up to a 30-day emergency prescription refill for maintenance medications.

How Do Executive Orders Affect My Business?

The state of emergency has many Florida business owners confused about their legal rights regarding the operation of their businesses and legal repercussions for not following the order. For a more detailed look at how your business is affected, visit the Florida Health COVID-19 website. On March 19th, 2020, Miami-Dade County Mayor issued amendment 2 emergency order 7-20, which directs the closing of all non-essential retail and commercial establishments. The order includes a list of businesses that are considered essential and are still able to operate. Some of these include:
  • Private and municipal marinas, boat docks, and fueling services

  • Hotels, motels, and other lodging services (restrictions apply to restaurants, bars, and fitness services within these establishments as stated in emergency or 3-20)

  • Health facilities

  • Veterinary and pet boarding facilities

  • Funeral home, cemeteries, and mortuaries

  • Businesses providing services to local, state, and federal governments
All Non-Essential Commercial Establishments Must Be Closed
The orders and amendments regarding the state of emergency are extensive and can be hard to understand from a legal standpoint. Many people are wondering if any of their rights are being violated, if they can go to jail for not following the rules and regulations set forth by the state, and exactly how much power and control the state can implement.

At Donet, McMillan & Trontz, we understand your fears and concerns during these troubling times. We know that many are losing their jobs, struggling to make sense of the chaos, and wondering how to navigate the implementation of rules being imposed upon the businesses that provide their livelihood. The laws and penalties as they apply to state and local governments vary widely depending upon which executive orders and amendments are implemented. It can be difficult for the public to know how those laws apply to them individually.

Family Staying Home During COVID-19 Pandemic
At Donet, McMillan & Trontz, we spend countless hours protecting and defending our clients' rights in state and federal courts. Each attorney at our firm will leave no stone unturned to defend each case with the utmost skill and effort. If you feel your rights are being violated, if you have questions regarding executive order 20-52 or any of its amendments, or if you want to know whether or not you'll face fines, penalties, or jail time for not complying, give us a call at (305) 444-0030. We have over 50 years' combined experience as Miami criminal defense attorneys. It's more important than ever that we find a balance between concern for public safety and your rights as a Florida resident.

It's important we stand as one during the current health crisis. We're as concerned about your health, safety, and your personal rights as you are. For information regarding the coronavirus, always check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) coronavirus update page. For questions or legal assistance regarding Florida state of emergency orders, call us. We always have an attorney on call or available by email 24/7.

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