Quarantines, screenings, other COVID-19 protective measures ordered, along with suspension of vacation rentals

A TWO-WEEK suspension of Florida vacation rental operations was among the measures recently implemented by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as means of protecting residents of the state from the spread of COVID-19.

By DOTTY NIST

Recent executive orders issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have directed quarantine of people entering the state from areas of “substantial community spread” of COVID-19, along with protective measures for the elderly and more-vulnerable people and a two-week suspension of vacation rentals.

EO 2020-80 Airport Screening and Isolation

On March 23, Gov. DeSantis directed all persons departing from any area with “substantial community spread” of COVID-19 and entering Florida through airports to isolate/quarantine for 14 days or while in Florida, if not staying for 14 days. This governor’s order (Executive Order 2020-80) indicated that the areas in question include New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the New York Tri-State area).

Exemptions were provided for airline employees and personnel furnishing military, emergency, or health response.

The order went into effect on March 24, with persons affected by the order to be responsible for the costs associated with their isolation/quarantine period.

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) was charged with ensuring the screening and isolation or quarantine of the people to which the order would apply, with coordination with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, state aviation and airport authorities, local governments and law enforcement agencies.

Violators of the directed isolation/quarantine requirements are subject to penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor, including up to 60 days’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $500, or both.

` Executive Order (EO) 2020-80 is to remain in effect until expiration (including any extensions) of EO 2020-52, the emergency management executive order issued by Gov. DeSantis on March 9 in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency, or until the isolation/quarantine order is lifted by executive order.

EO 2020-52 is set up to expire 60 days from March 9.

On March 24, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) reported that FDOT was assisting with the executive order by requiring to travelers coming to Florida from the New York Tri-State area by air to complete an airport traveler form containing information to be furnished to FDOH and by providing the travelers with a card with contact information and instructions to be used in the event symptoms of COVID-19 are experienced.

EO 2020-82 Isolation of Individuals Traveling to Florida

and

EO 2020-86 Additional Requirements of Certain Individuals Traveling to Florida

On March 24, Gov. DeSantis extended the requirement for 14-day isolation/quarantine to additional persons entering the state. The requirement was applied to people traveling from areas with substantial community spread entering Florida, whether by airport or otherwise, after being in any of the areas in question within the previous 14 days.

The order took effect immediately and applied retroactively.

As with EO 2020-80, exemptions were provided for airline employees and personnel furnishing military, emergency, or health response, and persons affected by the order were deemed responsible for the costs associated with the isolation/quarantine period.

An additional requirement of EO 2020-82 was for the people required by its terms to isolate/quarantine for 14 days or while in Florida to “inform any individual in Florida with whom they have had direct physical contact in the past 21 days that they traveled from an area with substantial community spread.”

State and local law enforcement authorities were charged with enforcing the order in cooperation with the FDOH, immediately reporting people in violation of the order to the FDOH.

As with EO 2020-80, violators of the directed isolation/quarantine requirements of EO 2020-82 are subject to penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor, including up to 60 days’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $500, or both.

As with EO 2020-80, the time period during which EO 2020-82 is to remain in effect is tied to the effective period of EO 2020-52 unless the requirements of EO 2020-82 are lifted by executive order.

On March 27, with EO 2020-86, Gov. DeSantis directed, essentially, that the requirements contained in EO 2020-82 apply to people entering Florida, including by roadway, from Louisiana, which was then deemed an area of substantial community spread for COVID-19.

On March 28, FDOT reported the expansion of collection of traveler forms and issuance of traveler cards at airports to people arriving from Louisiana in accordance with EO 2020-82. FDOT also reported the staffing of a checkpoint at the Alabama/Florida line on I-10 for screening of motorists as needed to implement EO 2020-86, with traveler forms collected from motorists coming from Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and these motorists also being furnished with a traveler card.

The following day, FDOT reported the placement of an additional checkpoint for motorists entering Florida from Georgia on I-95.

EO 2020-83 Protective Measures for Vulnerable Populations, Gatherings of Private Citizens and Density of the Workforce

Governor DeSantis also put in place EO 2020-83, Protective Measures for Vulnerable Populations, Gatherings of Private Citizens and Density of the Workforce, on March 24.

EO 2020-83 provided for the issuance of public health advisories for people over 65 and /or those with medical conditions, conditions that put them at high risk from COVID-19. The advisories directed these people to stay home and take other measures as necessary to limit their exposure to COVID-19.

Also directed as part of EO 2020-83 were a public health advisory against “all social or recreational gatherings of 10 or more people,” and a public health advisory urging people who can work remotely (at home) do so.

EO 2020-83’s effective time period is tied to that of EO 2020-52 or would come with an executive order lifting EO 2020-83’s provisions.

EO 2020-87Vacation Rental Closures

On March 27, Gov. DeSantis ordered a two-week suspension of vacation rental operations.

The order, EO 2020-87, was prefaced by the observations that people were “fleeing” to Florida from community spread locations and/or places where “shelter-in-place” was being implemented, that many COVID-19 cases in Florida have been the result of people coming into the state from other states and from international travel, and that advertising of vacation rentals in Florida have presented “attractive lodging destinations for individuals coming into Florida,” resulting in more risk to Florida residents.

Effective March 29, the order prohibited vacation rental operations from making new reservations/bookings and from allowing check-ins during the two-week period.

Exempted from the order were hotels, motels, inns, resorts, non-transient public lodging establishments, time-share projects, long-term rentals, previously-booked rentals scheduled for check-in by March 28, rentals to people performing military, emergency, governmental, health or infrastructure response, and travelers “engaged in non-vacation commercial activities.”

The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which regulates vacation rentals by Florida Statutes, was charged with implementing the order, with inspection of properties and/or third-party advertising platforms for vacations rentals to be undertaken as necessary.

Violations and attempts to violate the order by advertising of properties are subject to second-degree misdemeanor charges and penalties (imprisonment for up to 60 days and/or a fine of up to $500). Per the order, DBPR is also directed to revoke the vacation rental license of any party violating the order or who advertises a vacation rental while the order is in effect.

Executive orders available online for viewing

These executive orders may be viewed online at: https://www.flgov.com/2020-executive-orders/