Facing backlash from Florida Democrats, Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Wednesday that he will be signing an executive order requiring all Floridians to “limit movement and personal interactions outside the home.”
Speaking to the media at a press briefing in Tallahassee, DeSantis said he is issuing the statewide order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. DeSantis said he decided to implement a mandatory shutdown after President Donald Trump extended the federal stay-at-home order in the U.S. for 30 days.
“At this point, even though there’s a lot of places in Florida that have very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now. I did consult with folks in the White House, I did speak to the president about it,” DeSantis said.
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) April 1, 2020
The governor’s order is set to go into effect Thursday at midnight and limits Floridians to just essential activities. The order is set to last for 30 days.
The state has yet to outline which activities are being considered essential, with the scope of the order being vague. Businesses, like restaurants, are not being forced to close at this time.
When asked if the stay-at-home order will stop ‘non-essential’ businesses from operating, DeSantis said that the order doesn’t force those businesses to stop, but noted that if they continue they will not be following order.
“It’s really an order to individuals saying you need to, you can engage in essentials services, essential activities, but other than that you need to stick close to home,” DeSantis said. “We’re not necessarily saying anything to non-essential businesses. But under the order, you just wouldn’t be able to go into some of these things and conduct business and follow the order.”
DeSantis went on to note that some non-essential businesses may be able to still operate.
“There’s a whole bunch of opportunities where some of these non-essential businesses will still be able to do something,” he said.
DeSantis did not give specifics regarding any criminal penalties that may occur if the order is violated.
Today’s order comes one day after DeSantis stood by his decision to not implement a statewide stay-at-home order in a press briefing on Tuesday. DeSantis said he consulted with White House officials before issuing the order. On Tuesday, DeSantis told reporters that he’d consider the possibility of a shutdown in the Sunshine State if directed by the White House.
In the weeks leading up to the order, the Republican governor was the subject of harsh criticism from the political left — with many directly blaming him for the rising death toll. The decision to not shut down Florida’s economy led to 13 Democratic members of Congress calling on the governor to “immediately issue a statewide stay-at-home order to save lives.”
Florida will now join 33 other states, including California and New York, in issuing a stay-at-home to help curb the COVID-19 virus.