Florida Governor Issues Executive Order Requiring Isolation or Quarantine of Individuals Coming from New York Tri-State Areas with Potential Criminal Consequences

April 3, 2020

On March 24, 2020, Florida’s Governor issued Executive Order 20-80 (Emergency Management – COVID-19 — Airport Screening and Isolation) in response to the fight against the current COVID-19 global pandemic. The Order states: “many cases in Florida have been as a result of individuals coming into the State of Florida from international travel and other states and exposing our residents.” The Order further states: “Florida is seeing an increase in individuals fleeing to Florida from states where ‘shelter-in-place’ orders are being implemented, including from the New York Tri-State Area.”

Executive Order 20-80 applies to all persons “whose point of departure originates from outside the State of Florida in an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York), and entering the State of Florida through airports.” Persons flying into Florida must isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from when they arrive in Florida, or for their entire stay if it is shorter than 14 days. The Order does not apply to persons employed by the airlines and those performing military, emergency or health response.

Florida’s Governor directed the Florida Department of Health to “take any steps necessary to ensure the screening and appropriate isolation and quarantine of individuals covered by this Order.” In addition, the Order states pursuant to section 381.0012(5), Florida Statutes, “it shall be the duty of every state and county attorney, sheriff, police officer…to assist the Department of Health in enforcing any isolation or quarantine or order of the Department of Health issued pursuant to this Order.” The penalty for violating isolation or quarantine pursuant to Executive Order 20-80 is a second-degree criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500.00, or both.

Florida’s Governor has not issued a state-wide shelter-in-place order, but some local governments have issued shelter-in-place orders. How violations of this Executive Order will be implemented has yet to be seen in Central Florida, but in Hillsborough County the Sheriff arrested the pastor of a megachurch for refusing to close its doors despite a “shelter-in-place” order in effect in Hillsborough County.

If you or anyone you know is currently facing legal issues related to violations of “shelter-in-place” orders, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney at KJ LAW to discuss your legal remedies. For additional information regarding COVID-19, please visit the CDC and World Health Organization websites.

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