Reopening Florida: The Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery

The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt in every corner of Florida and have dramatically affected the way that we do business, the way we interact, and the way we live.  This article offers guidance on Florida’s progress toward loosening COVID-19 restrictions.  We begin by briefly tracing the history of Florida’s COVID-19 reopening orders, and then provide a brief summary of return-to-work steps in localities stretching from the Panhandle to the Keys.  

Reopening History

On April 29, 2020, the eve of the natural expiration of his “Safer at Home” Order, Governor Ron DeSantis announced his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” plan to reopen Florida, which he explained would include three phases in line with the guidelines previously released by the White House. Under the plan, most of Florida entered “Phase One” of the state’s reopening process on May 4, while continuing the fight against COVID-19.

On May 9, 2020, Governor DeSantis announced that he was expanding Phase One to include Palm Beach County and authorized barbershops, cosmetology salons, and cosmetology specialty salons that adopt appropriate social distancing and precautionary measures to re-open effective May 11, 2020.

On May 14, 2020, Governor DeSantis expanded the Phase One re-opening criteria to allow Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to participate in Phase One of the re-opening process. On the same date, the CDC release new guidelines in the form of a “decision tree” to assist employers in making (re)opening decisions during the pandemic.

On June 3, 2020, Governor DeSantis announced that he was allowing Florida to move into Phase Two of the state’s reopening process starting June 5, 2020. On that date, all counties in Florida except Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach (which have different restrictions and have been exercising enhanced caution in the reopen process), will operate under the following baselines:

  • All schools are to remain distance-learning only.
  • Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited except for family members, friends, and visiting residents in end-of-life situations.
  • In-store retail sales establishments may operate up to 50% of their building occupancy.
  • Movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, and arcades may operate at 50% of their building capacity, with appropriate social distancing and sanitation.
  • Restaurants, bars, pubs, and other vendors licensed to sell alcohol may operate at 50% of indoor capacity.
  • Bar areas may be open with seated service.
  • Museums and libraries may operate up to 50% of their building occupancy.
  • Gyms and fitness centers may operate up to 50% of their building occupancy.
  • Nightclubs remain closed.
  • Providers of personal services such as tattoos, piercing, acupuncture, tanning, and massage may operate with appropriate safety guidelines.
  • Vulnerable individuals are advised to avoid close contact with people outside the home.
  • Congregation with more than 50 people is discouraged.

Specific Localities

Jacksonville and Northeast Florida

In April 2020, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry had already told restaurants, lodging and retail owners to start thinking about how their businesses could follow CDC guidelines when Jacksonville reopens. Mayor Curry anticipated allowing restaurants to open so long as they followed the six-foot social distancing guideline or had staff wear gloves and face coverings, giving the impression he believed restaurants would be open at a higher capacity than announced by the governor. Following Governor DeSantis’s announcement, Mayor Curry announced he would provide further guidance on local policies in alignment with Governor DeSantis’s plan. When Mayor Curry releases his guidance, we will provide those updates. 


Over the past few months, the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force has met in expectation of Governor DeSantis’s plan to reopen Florida. The task force collectively reviewed guidelines from other states and announced specific guidelines for businesses operating in the Orlando metropolitan area, broken down with a phased approach.  

Corporate Guidelines—Suggestions:

  • Offer work from home at discretion of employer and as needed.
  • Utilize teleconferences when possible.
  • Increase cleaning services and additional sanitation services through outside cleaning companies.
  • Recommend touchless sanitizer at entry.
  • Staff age 65+ are encouraged to stay home.

Corporate Guidelines—Mandates:

  • Hand sanitizer at reception, conference areas and desks.
  • Hand sanitizer at entry in plain sight.
  • Phase One: face coverings for all employees who work in cubicles without dividers.
  • Employees to sanitize prior to shift.
  • Temperature checks for all staff prior to each shift (temp above 100.4º may not enter).

Hospitality Guidelines—Suggestions

  • Paper disposable menus.
  • Encourage takeout / online orders.
  • Touchless sanitizer at entry.
  • Staff age 65+ encouraged to stay home.

Hospitality Guidelines—Mandates

  • Hand sanitizer at every table.
  • Hand sanitizer at entry in plain sight.
  • All employees required to wear face coverings.
  • Temperature checks for all staff prior to each shift (temp above 100.4º may not enter).
  • All employees with flu-like symptoms to stay home.
  • Doors to be wiped regularly.
  • All staff behind counters must wear gloves (except bartenders).
  • Bartenders to sanitize hands after making each drink order.
  • Seated tables to be minimum of six feet apart.
  • Phased capacity limits.

Beauty Guidelines—Suggestions

  • Touchless sanitizer at entry.
  • Staff age 65+ encouraged to stay home.

Beauty Guidelines—Mandates

  • Sanitize every station after every client.
  • Hand sanitizer at entry in plain sight.
  • All employees required to wear face coverings.
  • Temperature checks for all staff before each shift (temp above 100.4º may not enter).
  • All employees with flu-like symptoms to stay home.
  • One worker per customer.
  • For spas, hand sanitizer in every room and all linens washed after every use.

Mall / Retail Guidelines—Suggestions

  • Recommended touchless sanitizer at entry of mall and each store.
  • Markers at checkout of stores to ensure people are staying six feet apart.
  • Hourly wipe-down of all countertops, railings and door surfaces.
  • Staff age 65+ encouraged to stay home.

Mall / Retail Guidelines—Mandates

  • All entry doors at mall and store entrances to be propped, manned or automated.
  • Hand sanitizer at entry of mall and each store to be in plain sight.
  • All employees required to wear face coverings.
  • Mall employees to regularly wipe down stair rails and door handles.
  • For stores, sanitizer at checkout stations.
  • All employees required to wear face coverings.
  • Temperature checks for all store staff prior to each shift (temp above 100.4º may not enter).
  • All employees in stores with flu-like symptoms to stay home.

Childcare / School Guidelines—Suggestions

  • Limit the number of children per classroom.
  • Extra sanitizing on all surfaces / toys / beds / floors.
  • Monitoring to ensure adequate social distancing between children.
  • Recommended touchless sanitizer at entry.
  • Staff age 65+ encouraged to stay home.

Childcare / School Guidelines—Mandates

  • Hand sanitizer at entry in plain sight.
  • All employees required to wear face coverings.
  • Gloves for all employees.
  • Temperature checks for all staff and children prior to each shift (temp above 100.4º may not enter).
  • All employees with flu-like symptoms to stay home.
  • Hand sanitizer in every room.
  • Children to be dropped off at reception.

Theme Parks

The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force noted, “Theme parks and other venues of that magnitude shall each develop their own specific and unique set of guidelines following the CDC recommendations and using best practices that will protect the life, health, and safety of their employees and guests.They will be permitted to open at their own discretion with their internally determined level of safe capacities throughout the various phases.”Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings agreed and noted large theme parks are like “cities unto themselves” and that none of the recommendations from the task force should seem punitive to them.On June 3, 2020, Universal Orlando reopened. Disneyworld has announced that it plans to reopen in early July.Similarly, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are expected to reopen on July 11, 2020.Hollywood Studios has announced that it expects to reopen on July 15, 2020.


Prior to the governor’s Phase One announcement, Hillsborough County assembled an “Emergency Policy Group” to discuss reopening and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced she hoped to work toward reopening some businesses. After the governor’s announcement, Mayor Castor announced her appreciation for the plan and for taking a phased approach to reopening.  Mayor Castor noted, “moving forward, we will continue to focus on social distancing, face coverings and personal responsibility as we reopen non-essential businesses.”  Since then, a number of facilities have reopened including select parks, dog parks, conservation preserves, nature preserves, and boat ramps.  The Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative is now providing contact-free curbside pickup at nine locations. Some portions of parks remain closed, including campgrounds, playgrounds, picnic areas, kayak/canoe facilities, recreation centers, athletic fields and courts, skate parks, and splash pads.

Collier County

The City of Naples continues to closely monitor and inform the community on COVID-19. The City of Naples Beaches and parkways in city parks re-opened on May 13, 2020 with restrictions. City business activities continue, but only with limited person-to-person contact for those with beach stickers.   

Every resident and visitor is encouraged to continue practicing social distancing, limit groups to 10 or less, wash hands frequently, and stay at home as much as possible.  The city has announced it will take action to restrict these public facilities again if the CDC guidelines are not followed. No additionally restrictive guidance is expected for Collier County. 

South Florida

Miami-Dade County

On April 20, 2020, the Miami-Dade “Moving to A New Normal: Parks and Open Spaces Initiative” released a draft of reopening recommendations, which focused on four main areas: beaches, parks, waterways and golf courses.

On May 14, 2020, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez released a 173-page “The New Normal: A Guide for Residents and Commercial Establishments.”  The first phase of reopening commenced on May 18, 2020.

On May 20, 2020, the City of Miami officially lifted its nightly curfew and shelter-in-place orders, which were implemented in late March to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Although the shelter-in-place order has been lifted, residents with preexisting medical conditions that increase their risk of contracting COVID-19 should continue to shelter in place if possible and limit exposure to persons outside of their household. 

Beginning on May 27, 2020, restaurants in the City of Miami were permitted to reopen to dine-in customers, with a number of strict health safety rules in effect:

  • Restaurant capacity will be capped at 50% of maximum approved occupancy;
  • Masks and social distancing rules will be in full effect;
  • Before re-opening, plumbing must be flushed to eliminate stagnant water from the period of closure;
  • Facilities must change and/or upgrade restaurant HVAC filters as necessary to maximize fresh air (using the maximum filtration for the design of the ventilation system) and increase outdoor airflow rates where possible;
  • Facilities must develop and implement plans as appropriate to address any parking garage or other facility access points leading to restaurant entrances (e.g., limiting capacity in elevators; sanitizing elevator touchpoints; cleaning stairway handrails; frequent cleaning or suspending the use of parking payment machines and alternatives for valet parking arrangements (valet must be avoided in the first phase);
  • All restaurants must create visible floor markings for appropriate six-foot distancing for each party in any waiting areas;
  • Distinct areas must be created for customer waiting, order pickup/takeout and any third-party delivery services; and
  • Facilities must introduce Plexiglas barriers at tills and counters.

On June 1, 2020, Miami-Dade County reopened hotels and pools.  On June 8, banquet halls, gyms, fitness centers, summer camps, youth activities, massage studios, and tattoo parlors will reopen.  However, the following commercial establishments remain closed: Bars, movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums,1 bowling alleys, arcades, indoor amusement facilities, and casinos. 

All residents, businesses and visitors to Miami-Dade County are presently required to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • People must follow the following social distancing and sanitation guidelines:
    • Gatherings of fewer than 10 people.
    • Six-foot distance between people.
    • Wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer often.
  • Facilities must implement certain procedures:
    • Enhanced sanitizing of all common areas and frequent touch points and placement of trash containers for face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) near exits and entrances and other common areas
    • Comprehensive cleaning of facilities must be performed each night and include thoroughly disinfecting all frequent touch points and emptying all trash receptacles using solid waste bags that are double-bagged and securely sealed.
    • Posting CDC signage in publicly trafficked locations emphasizing measures to “Stop the Spread of Germs” and to exercise social responsibility.
    • Upgrading or installing ventilation per OSHA guidance.
    • Designating quarantine rooms for infected individuals and deep clean after use.
    • Installing hand sanitizer at entry points and through site.
    • Training all personnel in new operating protocols and modifications to existing codes of conduct to deal with COVID 19 issues.

All businesses and workplaces must implement the following procedures:

  • Designating work group shifts to minimize contacts between employees and ensure easier tracking and tracing, as possible, and implement staggered breaks to reduce large group gatherings.
  • Avoiding meetings of more than five participants and encouraging virtual meetings.
  • Reducing seating in breakrooms and common areas to ensure minimum six feet of physical distance.
  • Allowing individuals who perform non-core functions to work from home, as possible.
  • Implementing testing programs for high-risk employees.
  • Establishing clear reporting protocols based on leading (e.g., thermometer temp spikes, thermal scanning spikes, increased absenteeism) and lagging indicators (e.g., staff health visits above pre-defined rate, community spread in retailer locale) to help prevent spread of cases.
  • Posting a contact email address and/or telephone number for employees/customers to contact if they have questions or concerns.
  • If faced with infection, immediately reporting the number of infected, timing of infection and proposed remediation plan to relevant local authorities. All staff must be tested, deep sanitization of workplace must be conducted, and entire office building including non-affected offices must be closed until all common areas are sanitized.

Some businesses must implement sign-in stations, log employee health status, or restrict access to facilities:

  • Retail establishments, museums, warehouses, trade and logistics facilities must all establish sign-in stations or check points for employees with a health questionnaire on symptoms.
  • Manufacturing businesses must establish sign-in stations or check points restricting access to employee work stations or production areas.
  • Restaurants must require employees to take their temperature at home before coming to work.  Specific temperatures should not be kept, but should be recorded in a daily log as “Pass/Fail” regarding whether they are below 99.5 °F (37.5°C).

Broward County

On April 29, 2020, the City of Fort Lauderdale also reopened certain parks, marinas, boat ramps, and golf courses to help promote physical and mental health in the community.

On May 18, 2020, Broward County moved into Phase One to reopen restaurants, but has abided by Governor DeSantis’ Phase One occupancy requirements of 50% of indoor occupancy and the maintenance of six-foot social distancing. Restaurants can allow outdoor seating with six-foot distancing, but it cannot exceed 100% of total occupancy limits. All tables and chairs, regardless of whether indoor or outdoor, must be at least six feet apart between parties and bar counters are required to remain closed. 

Broward County has imposed the following restrictions and mandates that require all business to:

  • Post CDC signage in public locations emphasizing measures to “Stop the Spread” and to exercise social responsibility.
  • Whenever feasible, allow employees to telework or establish a rotation or staggered schedule to reduce the number of employees working on site.  Where telework is not possible, consider how current workspaces could be reconfigured by installing physical barriers, placing visual markers, and implementing other measures that allow for social distancing.
  • Develop plans for monitoring employee health, with a particular focus on COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Ensure that employees wear facial coverings in the workplace when within six feet of someone else and when required under Broward County rules.
  • Visually mark required separation distances (six feet apart) for areas where there is any potential for people to congregate, such as in elevators, aisles, food counters, or lines to enter, check in, or receive services or purchase goods.
  • Clean and disinfect all bathrooms regularly throughout the day.
  • Limit capacity of elevators.
  • Remove all magazines and all frequently shared items from waiting rooms.
  • Deep clean establishments every 24 hours.
  • Provide hand-sanitizing stations throughout the workplace.
  • Require staff, customers, vendors, partners, and other persons entering the establishment to immediately sanitize their hands upon entrance to the workplace, and then regularly thereafter.

Restaurants must adhere to the following additional requirements:

  • Parties shall be limited to no more than 10 individuals.
  • Use touchless payment options whenever available. Ask customers and employees to exchange cash or card payments by placing on a receipt tray or on the counter rather than hand to hand. Sanitize any pens, counters, or hard surfaces between each use.
  • Wherever possible, install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions, at cash registers, check-in stations, food pickup areas, and other areas where consistently maintaining physical distance of six feet is difficult.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (for example, door handles, workstations, cash registers), and frequently shared objects (for example, payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, pens, condiment holders, and any reused menus) between each use.
  • Tables and other dining areas must be sanitized after each use.
  • Host stations must be sanitized at least hourly.
  • Restrooms must be sanitized no less frequently than hourly.
  • Conduct daily health checks (e.g., temperature and symptom screening) of employees in accordance with the governor’s order (EO 20-68) and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations.

Broward County also reopened retail facilities on May 18, 2020.  Retail establishments are required to limit occupancy to 50% of the store’s maximum capacity.  Broward County requires retail facilities to:

  • Prohibit or limit the use of changing rooms while ensuring proper sanitation and compliance with social distancing protocols.
  • Establish procedures for safe exchange and returns of goods and materials.
  • When possible and appropriate, use plastic shields or barriers between customers and clerks at service counters and clean them (the shields and service counters) frequently.
  • Prohibit the use of reusable bags (reusable bags may carry COVID-19).

Personal grooming services are also allowed to reopen in Broward County, but are limited to being provided by appointment only.  Services must be scheduled with at least 15 minutes between appointments to allow time for proper disinfecting of the area.  Broward County imposes the following additional requirements on personal grooming services:

  • If there are partitions or walls that are solid (such as Plexiglas, metal, or other solid non-fabric material) between each chair/workstation, then each chair/workstation can be used at any given time. Partitions must be thoroughly sanitized between each customer.
  • If there are no partitions or walls between each chair/workstation, the business must only use every other chair/workstation, or otherwise arrange seating, such that there is at least six feet separation between chairs/workstations to achieve social distancing.
  • Personal service employees must wear facial coverings.
  • Customers or clients must wear facial coverings to the full extent practicable for the service required.
  • Personal service employees must wash their hands immediately before performing a service and must wash their hands before performing a service for the next customer or client.
  • Businesses must remove all books, magazines, and any shared material for customers.
  • Daily deep cleaning and sanitation completed frequently for high-touch areas.
  • Areas, such as salon chairs, manicure UV machines, nail drying stations, etc., are to be cleaned after each client use.

Broward County has allowed museums to reopen at no more than 25% occupancy.  Museums must:

  • Encourage advance mobile ticketing and use touchless payment options.
  • Reduce staff/visitor contact points and consider clear protective dividers for front-line workstations.
  • Eliminate moveable elements and other hands-on activities that may transmit germs.
  • Prohibit use of interactive functions or exhibits including child play areas.

With regard to facial coverings:

  • All individuals in an establishment of any type that is permitted to operate under any executive order of the governor or a Broward County emergency order must wear facial coverings during in-person interactions with the public.
  • Members of the public must wear facial coverings when obtaining any good or service or otherwise visiting any business or establishment.
  • Any worker involved in food preparation must wear a facial covering, regardless of whether they conduct in-person interactions.
  • Individuals receiving goods or services are not required to wear a facial covering for the shortest practical period of time during which the receipt of such goods or services necessarily precludes the wearing of facial coverings (such as eating or receiving facial grooming).

All establishments that have on-site operations must comply with the following requirements:

  • Whenever feasible, allow employees to telework or establish a rotation or staggered schedule to reduce the number of employees working on site. 
  • Where telework is not possible, consider how your current workspace can be reconfigured by installing physical barriers or implementing other measures that allow for social distancing.
  • To the extent possible, implement flexible sick leave policies and reiterate existing sick time and paid time off policies to discourage employees from coming to work when they feel ill.
  • Develop a plan for monitoring employee health with the goal of preventing ill employees from working.
  • Develop or update your employee contact system (e.g., phone tree, social media, texting) so you have a way to quickly reach all staff if there is a workplace COVID-19 exposure.
  • Require customers, clients, and other visitors to wear facial coverings in accordance with Broward County Emergency Order 20-12.
  • Deep clean the establishment at least once every 24 hours.
  • Provide hand-sanitizing stations or supplies throughout the workplace.
  • Establishments that utilize shopping carts or baskets must establish and implement sanitation protocols to disinfect these items prior to each new customer use.
  • Establishments must display signs setting forth the rules and the establishment’s expectation that all persons shall comply with the rules.
  • Social distancing requirements do not apply to members of the same household.   

Broward County reopened gyms, beaches, and hotels, motels, and commercial lodging establishments on May 26, 2020, subject to various restrictions.

Beaches in Broward County now have the following restrictions:

  • Hours are limited from between sunrise and sunset.
  • No group or organized sports including, but not limited to, volleyball, soccer, or football are allowed.
  • No group gathering or events of more than 10 individuals are allowed.
  • Individuals must maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance from others at all times, except between members of the same household or group.
  • Facial coverings must be worn when social distancing of six feet between persons cannot be maintained.

Hotels, motels, and commercial lodging establishments are allowed to reopen subject to the following restrictions and requirements:

  • Ballrooms and other function spaces must remain closed.
  • Guests must wear facial coverings in check-in areas, elevators, and all other common spaces, but not in rented rooms.
  • Facial covering requirements applicable to the specific use areas (such as restaurants and fitness centers) shall be required in the specific use areas.
  • Establishments must impose capacity limits for common areas to adhere to the six feet social distancing requirements.
  • Establishments must maintain records of guest registration, staff work assignments, and facility usage for a minimum of 90 days to enable contact tracing (this includes maintaining guest registration records, employee work assignments, documentation of key control procedures including the electronic lock records, and security camera closed circuit tapes/file).
  • Establishments must create a page on their website or blog that outlines what they are doing to clean, sanitize and disinfect, and otherwise keep guests safe.
  • Areas in front of the reception desk must be marked to ensure guests maintain physical distancing while waiting.
  • Social distancing requirements must be posted at all elevator access points.
  • Areas in front of the first-floor elevator access points must be marked to ensure guests maintain physical distancing while waiting.
  • The number of guests on elevators must be limited to maintain social distancing requirements, unless all of the users are from the same household.
  • Hand sanitizer must be available to guests at the front desk.
  • Employees delivering and collecting items served to a room must wear gloves and masks.
  • Bellhop staff and valets must wear single-use gloves and a facial covering while performing the requested service and must sanitize their hands before and after performing the requested service.
  • Business center capacity must be limited to 50% maximum occupancy.
  • Guest rooms must be deep-cleaned after guest check-out.
  • Staff must wear facial coverings and gloves when cleaning.
  • After a room has been cleaned, guest rooms may not be entered by any person until the next guest arrives.
  • A tent card that explains the heightened cleaning procedures must be placed in every guest room, particularly related to high-touch areas, when possible.

Commercial gyms and fitness centers are allowed to reopen with the following restrictions and requirements:

  • Facilities are limited to 50% of the building’s maximum capacity.
  • All employees and patrons must be required to sanitize their hands when they enter the facility, after using each piece of equipment, and upon completing their fitness routine.
  • Equipment stations must be appropriately distanced (at least 10 feet between each piece of cardiovascular equipment or exercise station, except that spacing can be six feet if non-cloth protective barriers, such as Plexiglas or panels, are placed between equipment/stations and are regularly sanitized).
  • Disinfecting wipes must be available throughout the facility and patrons must sanitize each machine after use.
  • Restrooms must be sanitized no less frequently than hourly.
  • Deep clean the facility at least once every 24 hours.
  • Patrons must have their temperature taken upon entrance, including any children exercising or entering a child-care program.
  • Any patron with a temperature above 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit or who appears to have flu-like symptoms or other symptoms related to COVID-19 must be denied entry to the facility.
  • Employees must wear facial coverings, and have temperature checked prior to commencing work each day.
  • Any employee with a temperature above 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit or who appears to have flu-like symptoms or other symptoms related to COVID-19 upon arrival at work, or who becomes sick during the day, must immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors, and sent home.
  • Signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, including signs on properly washing hands, everyday protective measures, facial coverings, social distancing, and requirements for patrons to sanitize equipment after use, must be conspicuously posted.
  • Keep doors open between separate fitness areas or rooms of the facility to reduce surface touching by multiple people. Open windows where feasible to improve ventilation in the facility.

Playgrounds, sports fields, pavilions, recreation programs all remain closed.

Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County initially restricted a number of activities and closed a number of venues to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, including: boating, marine activities, golf courses, public parks and natural areas, tennis courts, community pools, restaurants, retail establishments, museums, gyms, hotels, and beaches.  Since then, wholesale restrictions have been lifted.  Restaurants, retail establishments, museums, and gyms all are restricted to operate at 50% of their indoor occupancy in line with Phase One of Governor DeSantis’ reopening plan.  As such, Palm Beach County restaurants must require six-foot social distancing in restaurants and limit table occupancy to 10 people.  Some towns in Palm Beach County, including West Palm Beach and Palm Beach, have allowed venues to offer increased outdoor dining under social distancing protocols.

Palm Beach County has also allowed marine activities such as fishing, jet skiing, and recreational boating to resume.  That said, the following restrictions or prohibitions remain:

  • Flotillas, which include but are not limited to, two or more boats travelling together or anchored more than 50 feet of each other, are prohibited.
  • Any activities resulting in gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.
  • Rafting up of boats, which includes but is not limited to, the roping or tying together of boats or vessels, is prohibited.
  • Beaching, landings, anchoring, or mooring of vessels on sandbars islands, and open shorelines, is prohibited.
  • Charter boats, fishing boats, and dive boats are all prohibited from allowing more than one person per fish cleaning or bait station at a time.
  • Entities renting jet skis must limit rentals to single riders only.
  • Entities renting canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards must limit rentals to single person use or two-person use if six feet distancing is possible.
  • Fishing piers must restrict fish cleaning stations to one person per station at a time.

Palm Beach County has also promulgated guidance for golf courses, including:

  • Shared carts should be restricted for families living in the same household and must be marked by a small flag to indicate verified family sharing.
  • Golf course practice facilities may reopen but must be set up so that golfers are spaced at least 10 feet apart.
  • Golfers should not congregate near the driving range.
  • Players shall not arrive more than 45 minutes before tee times.
  • Staff shall not handle bags, clubs, or other equipment.
  • Except for restaurant facilities, clubhouses shall remain closed: no indoor events will be conducted.
  • All league, clinic, camp, youth, and other organized activities remain suspended.
  • Caddy services remain suspended.
  • Tee times shall be maintained at a minimum of nine-minute intervals for purposes of social distancing.
  • Golf carts shall be cleaned and disinfected after each round.
  • Soap and water, or hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant wipes, shall be provided in each restroom.

All persons working in, patronizing, or otherwise physically present in grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, construction sites, vehicles for hire, or places where social distancing is not possible are recommended to wear masks or face coverings. Individuals providing personal grooming services are required to wear face coverings or masks.  Likewise, individuals riding public transit are required to wear facial coverings.

Martin County

Martin County has adhered to Phase One of Governor DeSantis’ reopening plan by limiting restaurants to 50% of their indoor occupancy, and allowing outdoor seating so long as six-foot social distancing is maintained and seating is limited to parties of 10 people or fewer.  In addition, Martin County has waived site plan restrictions governing temporary outdoor dining areas for restaurants and food establishments subject to the following restrictions:

  • Temporary outdoor dining must not block entrance or exit ways, fire lanes, or fire hydrants.
  • Temporary outdoor dining areas located within a parking area shall utilize a temporary physical barrier to separate the dining area from the parking area.

Retail establishments and museums are also limited to 50% capacity.  Personal grooming service providers must wear face coverings or masks. Gyms have also been reopened, but occupancy is limited to 50% of their building capacity. 

On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, Martin County reopened all beaches, but groups of more than 10 people are prohibited from congregating there. Likewise, Martin County has opened boat ramps, pavilions, playgrounds, and fitness areas. Sports fields remain closed.

Monroe County

Monroe County Emergency Management has started the process of designing the draft framework to discuss relaxing the protective measures in the Florida Keys once the threat of COVID-19 begins to ease for Florida Keys residents.  Pursuant to  Emergency Directive 20-02 2nd Amendment and Emergency Directive 20-09, lodging establishments (hotels, motel, vacation rental, marina, RV park) all began accepting reservations as of June 1, 2020.  They are recommended to limited occupancy to 50% capacity.  On June 1, 2020 Monroe County also suspended checkpoints on U.S. 1 and State Road 905.

Monroe County lodging establishments, like hotels, motels, campgrounds, RV parks, marinas, and other transient-licensed establishments, including licensed vacation rentals, are allowed to operate but are required to implement sanitation procedures and follow the American Hotel and Lodging Association COVID-19 guidelines for enhanced cleaning practices ( Vacation rentals will have to follow the state-approved plan found under the "Airports, Lodging, Vacation Rentals" tab. The county will continue the directive of using facial coverings in public settings. Senior citizens and individuals with an underlying medical condition are still strongly encouraged to stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Monroe County mandates the following requirements for essential businesses and customers:

  • Limiting capacity to 50 percent of maximum occupancy.
  • Providing hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes for use by customers and employees.
  • All delivery service workers and employees and customers of grocery stores, pharmacies, food distribution points, hardware stores and other essential businesses where 10 or more people may be present shall be required to wear a form of covering over their nose and mouth at all times.

Museums are limited to 50% capacity.  Personal grooming services are limited to 25% capacity and providers and must wear face coverings or masks. Gyms and fitness centers have also been reopened, but occupancy is limited to 50% of their building capacity. 

Monroe County has implemented the following requirements for face coverings:

  • All employees and customers of businesses shall be required to wear a form of covering over their nose and mouth at all times while inside such businesses.
  • All individuals providing delivery services shall wear a form of covering over their nose and mouth while making deliveries.


In contrast to South Florida, Florida’s panhandle is ramping up to reopen as soon as possible, although still using a phased approach.  The City of Pensacola has signaled a desire to reopen, and on April 27, 2020, issued its own Phased Reopening plan entitled “Recover Pensacola,” which is very similar to the White House plan.  Pensacola’s plan includes the following guidelines.

Phase One—Individuals

  • All vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place; members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that returning to work or other environments without social distancing is not practical, and precautions should be taken.
  • All individuals should avoid socializing in groups of more than 10.
  • All individuals in public should maximize physical distance from each other; social settings of more than 10 people should be avoided unless precautionary measures are taken.
  • All individuals should minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.

Phase One—Businesses:

  • Encourage telework wherever feasible; return to work in phases if possible.
  • Close common areas where personnel congregate and interact or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
  • Minimize non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidance regarding isolation following travel.
  • Strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of a vulnerable population.

Phase One—Businesses and Activities:

  • Closed during Phase One:
    • Schools and organized youth activates (daycare, camps).
    • Large venues (sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can reopen based on crowd limits established by state and CDC guidance.
    • Gyms can resume based on local government instruction.
    • Bars should remain closed.
  • Other Guidance:
    • Senior living facilities and hospitals should prohibit visits. Those who interact with residents and patients must adhere to strict protocols regarding hygiene.  
    • Elective surgeries can resume, as clinically appropriate, on an outpatient basis, and at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines. 

Critical Takeaways for Employers

Florida is reopening – the ball is rolling. The federal government has passed the baton to the states to issue necessary guidance. Governor DeSantis set out Phases One and Two of the state’s plan, but he also indicated any locality’s more specific restrictions will supersede the statewide order.  Thus, it is important for any business to be aware of federal, state, and local guidance on how to operate. 

Employers must determine whether now is the time to recall employees or end telework. And, employers must establish a plan for that return, whether in phases or all at once, how to deal with inevitable requests from employees for additional leave to handle childcare and other issues. Employers must also prepare for another possible outbreak. 

See Footnotes

​1 Movie theaters, concert houses, and auditoriums may reopen if they have submitted a reopening and operation plan for COVID-19 mitigation to Miami-Dade County, and approval of such a plan has been granted. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.