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Gov. Ron DeSantis issues statewide safer-at-home order for Florida

Order goes into effect at midnight on Friday
'Shut down Florida:' More than 340,000 sign petition asking governor to close state
Posted at 1:17 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 19:43:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis issued a mandatory safer-at-home order for the entire state of Florida for the next 30 days.

DeSantis made the announcement during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

"All persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities," the order read.

The order also requires senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying medical conditions to stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19

The order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. The order is set to end on April 30.

Despite repeatedly rebuffing suggestions from state legislators that he should shutdown the state, DeSantis said Wednesday that he made the move after speaking with President Trump.

"I did speak with the president about it," he said. "He agreed with the approach of focusing on the hot spots. But at the same time, he understood that this is another 30-day situation and you gotta just do what makes the most sense."

New guidance from the Trump Administration calls for people to practice social distancing through at least April 30.

WHICH BUSINESSES/JOBS ARE ESSENTIAL?

DeSantis said the state would also follow the guidelines outlined by the Department of Homeland Security when it comes to which workers and businesses are considered essential and non-essential.

The following services are also outlined as essential in the executive order:

  • Attending religious services
  • Participating in recreational activities (in alignment with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running, or swimming (consistent with social distancing guidelines)
  • Taking care of pets
  • Caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend

With the approval of the State Coordinating Officer and State Health Officer, additional activities could be added this list. Whenever possible, people are encouraged to work from home.

Some other essential activities were defined as, but not limited to, going to grocery stores, gas stations, health care facilities, pharmacies and child care centers.

That means grocery stores, gas stations, laundromats, assisted living facilities, hotels, pet supply stores, daycares, businesses that provide legal or accounting services among a list of others, are allowed to stay open.

Restaurants are not being forced to close at this time and can still continue offering curbside, take-out or delivery orders. However, the order will prevent people from gathering inside those businesses.

For a full list on what's open and what's allowed, click here.

SO WHAT CAN I DO?

To reiterate, here's what you can and can't do:

YOU CAN:

- Go to the grocery store
- Go to the pharmacy
- Go to the doctor (call them before going for instructions)
- Pick up food from a restaurant
- Take your pet to the veterinarian
- Enjoy outdoor activities, such as going for a walk, or jog, as long as you do not gather in a group of more than 10 and stay at least six feet away from each other

YOU CANNOT:

- Go to work at any place that is NOT an essential service as defined in the order
- Visit friends or family socially
- Visit someone in a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility, except for a few limited exceptions. Please contact the specific facility for further information.
- Gather in groups of more than 10, or be closer than six feet to people.

Local governments are also directed to ensure that groups of 10 or more are not permitted to congregate in any public space.

Similar actions were taken in Leon County and several other local counties that enacted their own stay-at-home orders.

The governor also announced on Wednesday that he's accelerating $2.1 billion in road and infrastructure improvements throughout Florida because there is far less traffic on our roads right now.

You can read the full executive order below:

EO 20-91 by WTXL ABC 27 on Scribd

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who's one of the many who have been pressuring DeSantis to shutdown the state, released a statement following the announcement:

“When I called for this stay-at-home order nearly two weeks ago, there was a reason. It was necessary to flatten the curve and save lives. I said then I would stand with the Governor when he issued the order, and I do so now. Thank you, Governor, for making the right call. Together, we will fight this virus and preserve the state we love.”

On Wednesday, 13 Florida Congressional Democrats penned a letter to DeSantis, asking him to issue a statewide "stay at home" order.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 6,741 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, the fifth-most of any state in the nation. At least 85 people had died in connection with the disease.

DeSantis' order comes days after other states had already issued "shelter-in-place" or "stay-at-home" orders. Previously, the governor said he thought it was inappropriate to issue a statewide mandate because some pockets of the state had not yet reported any cases of the virus.

On Wednesday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced that he would issue a shelter-in-place order on Thursday.

You can watch the full press conference below:

This is a breaking news story. We're currently working to update this story with additional details.