On April 1, Governor Ron DeSantis finally issued a state-wide mandatory safer-at-home order for Florida.
“All persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities”
According to the order, all Floridians are bound to follow the guidelines as detailed by the Department of Homeland Security. While many of these echo or parallel similar guidelines set by other state governments, there are some significant differences.
I’m also going to point out that it’s your responsibility to learn and abide by any city or county ordinances. These may further limit movement or more rigidly define essential services and activities. However, local ordinances may not lessen the state mandates.
So what are essential services and activities? More than you might think.
The Usual Essentials
All of the usual, um, suspects are exempt from the order and, in fact, are required to go to work, just as they would after a hurricane, wildfire or other natural disaster.
- Emergency Management
- Law Enforcement
- Fire and Rescue services
- Emergency Medical Services
- Corrections officers and support personnel
- Search & Rescue personnel
- 9-11 Call Center employees
- Fusion center employees to maintain emergency communication and coordination
- Healthcare providers and Caregivers
- Hospital and laboratory personnel
- Private security
- Mortuary and Funeral Service providers
- Coroner’s office
- Assisted Living facilities/Nursing Homes
- Home-based caregivers
- Mutual assistance personnel
- Military, including private and public military contractors
However, it is not just the frontline protectors, medical caregivers and rescue personnel that are considered essential. Just about anyone who works in or around law enforcement, fire & rescue, and medical facilities – or provides for their supplies – are included.
That means accountants, billing, information and cybersecurity, providers of medical supplies, drugs, personal protection aids, medical records, ammunition stores, dietary supplements, Blood banks (as well as donors), uniforms, pharmacy workers, coffin makers, victim assistance, air medical service providers, equipment vendors, mechanics, shooting ranges, Child Protective Services, hazmat providers, toilet paper suppliers and social workers all fall under the essential services category.
Of course, for any of those employees who are able to work from home, that is recommended, but their employer does not necessarily have to accommodate them.
Food & Agriculture
As long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines, which include masks or cloth covering the nose and mouth and maintaining a 6 foot distance from others, the following are allowed to stay open (they may, however, set modified hours to allow employees to restock and properly sanitize and disinfect the area):
- Grocery stores
- Farmers’ markets
- Farm and produce stands
- Food banks, soup kitchens and homeless shelters
- Convenience stores
- Other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products
- Providers of animal/pet food and pet supplies
- Liquor stores
- Trucking companies
- Businesses that ship groceries, foods, goods or services
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, for drive thru, pick-up or carry out only.
- Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public on a pick-up and takeaway basis only.
- Beverage bottlers and suppliers
- Food packaging manufacturers
- Food testing facilities
- Employees of any and all of the above
Although schools have been dismissed for the month – possibly for the rest of the school year – childcare facilities are an essential business that enable essential workers to assist us. However, there are set conditions that all childcare facilities may not be able to meet. Only those that can readily maintain the following criteria may remain open:
- Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 10 or fewer (inclusive of childcare providers for the group).
- Children and child care providers shall not change from one group to another.
- If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix or interact with each other.
By the way, if you’re at home, trying to find creative new ways to educate or even distract your kids to get some work done, we highly recommend Common Sense’s Wide Open School
Communications & Transportation
- Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services
- Gas stations
- Weather forecasters
- Auto repair and related facilities
- Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including public & private post office boxes
- Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services via automobile, truck, bus, or train
- Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences
- Telecommunications providers, including sales of computer or telecommunications devices and the provision of home telecommunications
- Any business that is interacting with customers solely through electronic or telephonic means, and delivering products via mailing, shipping, or delivery services
- Provision of propane or natural gas
- Workers supporting the energy sector, (including but not limited to nuclear, coal, hydroelectric, or renewable), regardless of the energy source or infrastructure.
- IT and OT technology for essential energy sector operations including support workers, customer service operations; energy management systems, control systems, and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition SCADA systems, and energy sector entity data centers; cybersecurity engineers; and cybersecurity risk management.
- Employees needed to monitor, operate, engineer, and maintain the reliability, safety, environmental health, and physical and cyber security of the energy system
- Workers and security staff involved in nuclear re-fueling operations
- Refineries, pipeline construction and monitoring
- Truck drivers
- Bus, train and other mass transit drivers
- Maintenance and repair technicians
- Truck stop and rest area workers
- Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) employees
- Towing/recovery services
- Railroad employees
- Roadside assistance workers
- Bridge operators
- Vehicle rental services
- Bicycle & car sharing and maintenance services
- Safety inspectors
- Postal, parcel, courier, last-mile delivery, including private companies
- Air Traffic controllers and maintenance personnel
- Aviation and aerospace safety
- Operations personnel
- Accident investigators
- Barge crews
- Businesses operating at any airport, seaport, or other government facility, including parks and government offices
Public Safety & Health
Certain secondary duties are considered essential to maintaining the health and well-being of the community as well. As well as efforts to stagnate the spread of Coronavirus and other health concerns.
- Appliance repair personnel
- Dry Cleaners
- Laundry service providers
- Landscape – commercial and residential
- Pool care businesses
- Waste management services, including collection and disposal of waste
- Employees needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure
- Operational staff for water distribution and testing.
- Workers who maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting water and wastewater operations.
- Operational staff at wastewater collection facilities
- HVAC Technicians
- Construction workers
- Landfill operations
- Workers providing electronic security, fire, monitoring and life safety services
- Dispatchers involved with service repair and restoration
- Trade Officials
- Banks and related financial institutions
- Employees supporting Census 2020.
- Clergy for essential support
- Workers in animal shelters
- Workers responsible for the leasing of residential properties, especially Section 8 housing locations
- Hardware stores
- Customs and immigration workers
- Educators supporting public and private K-12 schools, state & private colleges, trade schools, and technical colleges, but only as needed to facilitate online or distance learning or performing other essential functions
- Elections personnel to include both public and private sector elections support
- Residential and commercial real estate services
- Businesses that supply office products needed for people to work from home
- Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities
- Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate, and which do not interact with the general public
- Operations of the judicial system
- Architectural, engineering, or land surveying services
- Manufacturing of metals, chemicals, industrial minerals, semiconductors, materials and products needed for medical supply chains, and for supply chains associated with transportation, energy, communications, information technology, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, wood products, commodities used as fuel for power generation facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, processing and reprocessing of solid waste, emergency services, and the defense industrial base.
As you can see, according to the state’s definitions, there is much more to essential services and operations than may be obvious at the start. Many of the companies and services we are accustomed to in Florida are still being maintained, albeit at smaller levels.
The Governor, as well as Federal officials, encourage as many people as possible to work from home, to minimize the depth and speed of the virus’ spread. This is true even if you are an essential service provider. If it can be done remotely, it is recommended that you do so.
It should be noted that this is in no way a comprehensive list, but the complete details can be found here. I also want to point out that these requirements are guidelines set by Homeland’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and they may change or restrictions may be escalated at any time. Keep an eye on your favorite local news station’s broadcasts or websites to keep abreast of everything.
Outside of what CISA defines, the Governor also indicated several acceptable “Essential Activities”:
- Attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship
- Participating in recreational activities (consistent with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running, or swimming
- Taking care of pets
- Caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend
However, “a social gathering in a public space is not an essential activity.”
Groups of people greater than ten are not permitted to congregate in any public space.
Again, be sure to check your local ordinances as well. Lee County closed their beaches last month. Pinellas, Hillsborough and many other counties followed suit shortly after, although open dates are set for some. Hillsborough County has limited many non-social activities, including large church gatherings, leading to a pastor’s arrest right before Palm Sunday.
One thing you might have noticed missing from essential services is most sales and marketing. While we are essential to the economy, we are secondary to the public health concerns of the state and nation.
However, whether the government recognizes it or not, marketing is always essential for small businesses. Luckily, there are resources, like our own website, which provide plenty of useful information. Content blogs, social media, podcasts, lead magnets, these can all be done – and done well – from the comfort of your home office. And small businesses will need to maintain as much momentum as possible through and coming out of this ‘Coronacrisis.’
If you have any questions or need some help figuring out the best strategic approach for your business, please reach out. We’ve made small business our business for more than 20 years. We’re always happy to assist in any way we can. And we offer programs for the entrepreneurs and small business owners who just don’t have the time or bandwidth to handle doing it on their own. Whatever you need, even just an hour with like minds to clear the cobwebs, we’re here for you.