Florida residents are being ordered to stay at home for the next 30 days. This order will go into effect on April 3, 2020 at 12:01am. Governor Ron DeSantis announced in an executive order that all Florida residents were directed to “limit movements and all personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.” This includes limiting the movement of work-related activities outside of essential services.
The statewide stay-at-home order came shortly on the heels of many of the most populated counties in Florida, including Hillsborough County, declaring similar orders to residents last week. With approximately 7,000 reported cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Sunshine State, the goal is to limit the movement of citizens over the next month to reduce the spread of the respiratory disease.
With a government-imposed shutdown of all nonessential services, many contractors and construction businesses are left wondering whether or not this mandate includes their business. In this brief article, a Florida construction lawyer will offer some insight to help you determine if your construction business is exempt from the statewide order. At Cotney Construction Law, our attorneys encourage all construction firms to stay informed of the most recent developments on our COVID-19 resources section. Even if your business is located outside of Florida, you can stay up to date on the latest developments nationwide.
With this order, here are three steps Florida-based contractors should take.
Step One: Find Out If You’re an Essential Business
As of April 2nd, 2020, construction is excluded in Florida; however, this is changing hourly and you need to closely monitor the most recent news. Chances are that your construction business will qualify as an exempt business during a government-imposed shutdown, but all construction businesses should confirm this before proceeding on projects. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, governments should allow “essential critical infrastructure workers” to continue to work on projects. This can include residential contractors that maintain “safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.” If you are exempt, we can provide you and your workforce with documentation to continue working.
Step Two: Seek Legal Insight
Construction firms have a lot of questions beyond just whether or not their business is exempt from this statewide order. Regardless of what stage of a project you are at, review your contract to ensure provisions are in place that cover delays, price accelerations, and other elements outside of your control. You should also seek legal advice related to any employment law issues, including answers to questions about the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”). Whether it’s updating company policies or providing a safety course on OSHA standards related to COVID-19, a coronavirus construction attorney is standing by.
Step Three: Create a Crisis Management Plan
It’s fair to say that a global pandemic that results in government-imposed shutdowns of nonessential businesses warrants developing a crisis management strategy for your business. When you invest in one of our COVID-19 Protection Kits, you receive a jobsite preparedness and response plan, toolbox talk with sign-up sheet, and employment law guide — all extremely valuable tools to protect your business. We also encourage construction companies to consider the benefits of investing in an affordable, monthly subscription plan for direct access to our Florida construction lawyers and sword-and-shield protection when you need it.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.