COVID-19 E-lert: Governor Ron DeSantis Allows Businesses to Return to Full Operations with the Issuance of His Phase 3 Executive Order (EO 20-244)

By: Matthew A. Bowles, Associate

On September 25, 2020, Governor DeSantis signed EO 20-244 which established Phase 3 reopening measures for the State of Florida. In particular, the Order rescinds all prior COVID-19 related restrictions regarding business operations while prohibiting local ordinances which prevent an individual from working or operating a business. The Order allows restaurants to operate at 100% capacity while limiting the ability of local governments to lower such threshold. The Order also suspends the collection of COVID-19 related fines and penalties enforced upon individuals.

Although EO 20-244 suspends the ability of local governments to enforce via fines and/or penalties their mask mandates against individuals, the Order does not nullify such mandates and businesses may still be required to adhere to the requirements of local mask mandates as they apply to businesses. Businesses may enforce mask restrictions through educating customers of mask requirements and, in extreme circumstances, trespassing individuals who fail to comply with same.

EO 20-244 does not impact an employer’s ability to require its employees to wear masks and employers may enforce such requirements through disciplinary measures up to and including termination. However, employers should remain cognizant of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and engage in the interactive process with employees who assert they are unable to wear a mask due to a disability in order to determine whether a reasonable accommodation is available.

For more information regarding COVID-19’s impact on employers, please visit the GrayRobinson, P.A. COVID-19 Task Force’s Labor & Employment web page here.

We will continue monitoring the agencies for COVID-19 related updates and circulate same as pertinent updates become available.