Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Florida, US, extend stay-at-home order until May 3; plan to lift business restrictions starting May 4.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Miami, Florida
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Key West, Florida
  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Pensacola, Florida
  • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Fort Myers, Florida
  • Destin, Florida
  • West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Gainesville, Florida
  • Panama City, Florida
  • Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
  • St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida
  • Melbourne-Space Coast, Florida
  • Naples, Florida
  • Sanford, Florida
  • Fort Pierce, Florida
  • Vero Beach, Florida
  • Punta Gorda, Florida
  • Lakeland, Florida
  • Marathon, Florida

This alert began 30 Apr 2020 18:57 GMT and is scheduled to expire 18 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Florida (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions; heightened security

Summary
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis extended an existing order requiring residents to stay at home except to perform essential tasks through at least May 3 as part of the state's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19), while announcing guidelines for certain businesses to reopen starting May 4. According to the stay-at-home order, residents may only leave their homes to obtain basic goods, attend to a medical issue, care for a person in need, go to work at a business that is allowed to operate during the health emergency. Residents may also engage in outdoor recreational activities, provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Starting 0001 May 4, authorities will lift some business restrictions statewide, except in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Restaurants may allow in-person dining, provided they limit the number of patrons inside to 25 percent of the facility's capacity. Similarly, retail stores, museums, and libraries may also reopen, provided they do not exceed 25 percent of the facility's capacity, and they close any child play areas and interactive functions. Elective medical procedures may resume, as long as personnel have the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and the facility in question can convert to treating COVID-19 patients if there is a new surge in cases. Certain other businesses and services considered nonessential, such as bars and fitness centers, must remain closed. A ban on short-term rentals will also remain in place.

Gatherings of ten people or more will remain prohibited. Starting May 4, residents - especially those 65 years of age and older, and those with underlying medical conditions - will be encouraged to limit the time they spend outside of their homes, and to avoid travel within the US or abroad. Authorities have also extended orders for travelers entering the state from New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The order does not apply to persons employed by airlines or those performing military, emergency, or health service. Checkpoints where authorities question arriving travelers about their place of origin and their destination will remain in place.

Authorities in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties have allowed certain public parks to reopen, but maintain restrictions on nonessential businesses. Beaches in the three counties remain closed.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing remaining restrictions. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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