As you are likely aware, if you are a Broward County, Florida resident, the Broward County Administrator with authorization of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners issued an Emergency Order, (hereinafter referred to as “Order”) that is went into effect on March 27, 2020 at 12:01 AM, which is to remain in effect until the expiration of the State of Local Emergency, which may be extended by a subsequent order or declaration, unless it is earlier terminated by a subsequent Emergency Order. The intention of the Order is stated therein, “WHEREAS, this Emergency Order is necessary because of the propensity of the virus (Coronavirus, COVID-19) to spread person to person and also because the virus is physically causing property damage due to its proclivity to attach to surfaces for prolonged periods of time; WHEREAS, this Emergency Order is necessary to protect the lives, health, welfare, and safety of the County’s residents from the devastating impacts of this pandemic.”
Where Does Broward County Derive Its Authority to Close Businesses and Tell My Family and I to Stay Home Until the State of Emergency is Over?
It is true that pursuant to the Order you’re basically required to remain in your home outside the limited exceptions provided in the Order for things like, but not limited to buying groceries, walking your dog, outdoor exercise, putting gas in your car and performing work in an essential profession like healthcare. While the Order is fairly restrictive, it appears on its face to be lawful. Broward County declared a State of Local Emergency in response to COVID-19 on March 10, 2020 as authorized by Fla. Stat. § 252.38(3)(a)(5).
Authority From the Florida Legislature
Fla. Stat. § 252.46(1) gives broad authority to counties and municipalities of Florida to make orders and rules as are necessary for emergency management purposes. Fla. Stat. § 252.46(2) states that all orders issued by counties and municipalities for emergency management purposes shall have the full force and effect of law after adoption.
Authority From the Code of Ordinances of Broward County, Florida
Chapter 8, Section 8-53 of the Code of Ordinances of Broward County, like Fla. Stat. § 252.46(1), provides Broward County officials with fairly broad authority to implement actions, such as the issuance of orders like the present Order to contain States of Local Emergency in Broward County.
How Long Can The Restrictions of The Order Remain in Place?
Fla. Stat. § 252.38(3)(a)(5) states that the duration of each state of emergency declared locally is limited to 7 days. It states that such states of emergency may be extended as necessary in 7-day increments. Likewise, Chapter 8, Section 8-53(a) of the Code of Ordinances of Broward County states in part, “A state of emergency so declared shall continue for seven (7) days, unless extended as necessary, in seven-day increments.” The Broward County Administrator declared a State of Local Emergency resulting from COVID-19 on March 10, 2020, which the County Administrator extended on March 17, 2020 and again extended on March 24, 2020. While this is a short period of time, there will likely be at least one more extension of the State of Emergency if not more as it does not presently look like the COVID-19 virus is going away anytime soon.
What Can Happen If I Get Caught Violating the Order?
Fla. Stat. § 252.47 states, in reference to Orders issued pursuant to State of Local Emergencies declared by Florida Counties and Municipalities, “The law enforcement authorities of the state and the political subdivisions thereof shall enforce the orders and rules issued pursuant to ss. 252.31-252.90.” Fla. Stat. § 252.50 states, “Any person violating any provision of ss. 252.32-252.90 or any rule or order made pursuant to ss. 252.31-252.90 is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.” The relevant statutes state that the maximum penalty for a second-degree misdemeanor is a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.
Key Sections of the Broward County Shelter-in-Place Order
The Order states that people are permitted to leave their homes for things such as but not limited to purchasing groceries and food from restaurants that is ordered to-go, seeking medical and dental care, seeking care from mental health professionals, getting gas, going to banks, getting outdoor exercise, going to work in an essential business or profession and caring for friends, family members or pets in another household. People are required to follow all U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Florida Department of Health (FDOH) recommendations such as maintaining 6 feet apart social distancing from other people, when leaving their homes. Essential businesses include but are not limited to healthcare professionals, dentists, urgent care centers, mental health professionals, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, food banks, media services, gas stations, auto-supply stores, auto-repair facilities, banks, insurance firms, hardware stores, contractors and other tradesmen, building management and maintenance, home security firms, businesses primarily providing mailing, logistics, pick-up and shipping services, including post office boxes, Laundromats, dry cleaners, restaurants to serve food by delivery or to-go, businesses that primarily supply office products needed for people to work from home, transportation services, waste management services, hotels, firearm and ammunition supply stores, and moving, storage and relocation services.
Contact Biazzo Law, PLLC for Assistance
If you are a Broward County resident or visitor and you have concerns regarding your legal rights during this uncertain time, contact Biazzo Law at (561) 939-6300 for a consultation today. This blog is not to be construed as legal advice.