Gov. Ron DeSantis issues statewide stay home order to stop coronavirus spread

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By: Edan Schultz, Pat Mueller | WCTV Eyewitness News
April 1, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- After days of mounting pressure as the coronavirus spreads in Florida, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Wednesday issued an executive order asking people to stay at home across the state.

DeSantis says under the order, people are only permitted to leave the home for essential services or activities. He says the state will abide by the list of essential businesses and services outlined by the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, the order says more essential services or activities can be added to this list with the approval of the State Coordinating Officer and State Health Officer.

The order lists the following as essential activities:

  • Attending religious services
  • Participating in recreational activities 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

    A social gathering in a public space is not an essential activity, the order says. It is up to local governments to make sure groups of 10 or more people are not allowed gather in a public space.

    DeSantis says the order is targeted to individuals, and it is not telling non-essential businesses to shut down entirely. He says those businesses can still make deliveries or things of that nature, but people cannot congregate in the business itself.

    "All businesses or organizations are encouraged to provide delivery, carry-out or curbside service outside of the business or organization, of orders placed online or via telephone, to the greatest extent practicable," the order says.

    The order also says people are encouraged to work from home.

    This order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. At this time, it is set to expire on April 30.

    About 900 new cases have been reported in each of the past three days.

    Across Florida, the state health department reports nearly 7,000 cases of COVID-19 as of noon Wednesday, with more than 900 people hospitalized and 87 deaths.

    The governor has been under increasing pressure to issue the statewide stay-at-home order. Florida's congressional Democrats said Tuesday that DeSantis' decision not to do so would result in thousands of unnecessary deaths, risk the health of doctors and nurses and threaten to overwhelm hospitals.

    DeSantis had defended his county-by-county approach, saying businesses and workers in unaffected counties shouldn't be punished, but Wednesday said he is following the new guidance from the Trump Administration, which has called for people to stay home and practice social distancing through at least April 30.

    A list of essential businesses can be found here.

    You can watch the full press conference from Wednesday, which aired live on WCTV's Facebook page, below.

    The PDF file of the full executive order has been attached to this story. Desktop users can view a PDF at the top right of this story, while mobile users can see it at the bottom.

    Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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