In the latest move to slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday closing all Florida restaurants and food establishments to on-site customers.
However, they still may run their kitchens to provide delivery or take-out services.
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The order does not indicate when the closures will go into effect, but says it will end with the expiration of the state of emergency DeSantis signed March 9.
In the order, DeSantis pointed to a need for “social distancing” to try to prevent the spread of the highly contagious and deadly virus known as COVID-19.
“I am committed to supporting retailers, restaurants and their employees as they pursue creative business practices that safely serve consumers during this temporary period of social distancing and … as governor, I am responsible for meeting the dangers presented to this state and its people by this emergency,” part of the order said.
The announcement will affect a huge part of Florida’s economy and workforce. The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation will have enforcement power.
One small bit of good news for restaurants: the order lifts the restriction that bans restaurants from package sales of alcohol for off-site consumption. As a result, bulk alcohol sales to go with food that’s being picked up or delivered are being allowed, provided customers have an I.D.
The order also temporarily closes all gymnasium and fitness centers in the state.