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Mandatory Operation Changes for Hotels/Bars/Restaurants Due to COVID-19

March 17, 2020

By: Ferran Arimon & Tara Tedrow

Effective immediately, Governor Ron DeSantis has issued Executive Order No. 20-68, which impacts operations across the state of Florida for at least the next thirty days as follows:

  1. Bars, Pubs and Nightclubs. The Executive Order requires all bars, pubs and nightclubs to suspend service of alcohol as of 5pm today (3/17/20) for 30 days. The relevant part of the Executive Order notes that the threshold as to whether a facility is considered a bar, pub or nightclub is whether the facility derives 50% or more of its gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages.
  2. Beaches. Members of the public accessing beaches are directed to limit their gatherings to no more than 10 persons, distance themselves from other parties by 6 feet, and support beach closures at the direction of local authorities.
  3. Restaurants. In addition to restrictions on bars and nightclubs, restaurants have been directed to limit capacity to 50% of total building occupancy, to follow CDC guidelines by ensuring, at a minimum, that a 6 foot distance is maintained between any group of patrons and that parties are limited to no more than 10 individuals. Moreover, for restaurants, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation shall ensure that all restaurants implement an employee screening process. The Executive Order sets forth criteria for prohibiting an employee from entering the restaurant premises if they meet the following criteria:
    • Any person infected with COVID-19 who has not had two consecutive negative test results separated by 24 hours;
    • Any person showing, presenting signs or symptoms of, or disclosing the presence of a respiratory infection, including cough, fever, shortness of breath or sore throat;
    • Any person who has been in contact with any person(s) known to be infected with COVID-19, who has not yet tested negative for COVID-19 within the past 14 days; or
    • Any person who traveled on a cruise ship within the past 14 days.

For the purposes of this Executive Order, “restaurant” shall include any Food Service Establishment licensed under Chapter 500, Florida Statutes, and Public Food Service Establishments licensed under Chapter 509 Florida Statutes.

Updated: On March 17, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced the City of Orlando would prohibit the distribution or sale - with or without payment - of all alcohol for on-premises consumption until March 31, 2020. Following the lead of DeSantis, Dyer later retracted the City’s prohibition on the sale of all alcohol for on-premises consumption as it relates to restaurants. Read more.

These announcements will certainly have impacts on businesses across the state. Please be aware that the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program is active for small business owners affected by COVID-19. If eligible, businesses are encouraged to start the process sooner rather than later.

If you have questions on the impact of these state and local orders, please reach out to one of authors or to the members of our Hospitality & Leisure Practice Group.

For up-to-date news please follow our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Team page.

This article is informational only. You should consult an attorney before acting or failing to act. The law may change rapidly and no warranty is given. LOWNDES DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. ALL ARTICLES ARE PROVIDED AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS. Consult a Lowndes attorney if you wish to establish an attorney/client relationship.
Tara Tedrow is a shareholder in the firm’s Land Use, Zoning & Environmental Group and serves as chair of the Cannabis & Controlled Substances Group. She brings years of experience handling an array of complex legal matters for multi-billion dollar valued companies and entrepreneurs alike.
With a significant portion of her practice devoted to land use and development, Tara regularly advises clients on entitling projects for commercial, residential, industrial, office and mixed uses. She works with local governments and regulatory agencies to address the needs of her clients related to environmental permitting and compliance, zoning, comprehensive plans, concurrency, site plan approval, variance and waiver requests, due diligence and property rights.

Often sought out for high-profile and high-stakes land development projects, Tara has delivered positive outcomes for clients ranging from large multi-national and U.S.-based companies to high-net worth individuals seeking land use entitlements. With over 15 years of competitive debate experience, she is uniquely suited to handle complex and controversial projects and public hearings that present a myriad of political and legal challenges.

Tara has provided developers and clients with legal counsel and representation in Section 70.51 mediations. Her experience in land use and environmental dispute resolutions offers a unique benefit to clients navigating the alternative dispute resolution process following denial of a development order, zoning approval and other land use matters around the state.

Well-known for providing legal and lobbying representation for a wide range of cannabis clients, Tara and her team work with physicians, lenders, real estate developers, landlords, ancillary service providers, banks, licensed adult use and medical marijuana companies, cultivators, processors, retailers and license applicants, helping them to navigate the ever-changing regulatory landscape of marijuana and hemp regulations. She also assists clients in the national hemp industry in obtaining licensing and approvals for processing, retailing, cultivation and other forms of secondary byproduct monetization. Her deep knowledge of regulatory laws and understanding of operations and logistics for cannabis companies, along with her ability to make connections and build partnerships, bring strategic value to her clients. 

Tara is the only person in the state of Florida to be appointed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to both the inaugural Industrial Hemp Advisory Council created under Senate Bill 1020 and to the state’s Hemp Advisory Committee, which she currently chairs. A prolific presenter and speaker at industry seminars and conferences, she has served as the keynote speaker on industry regulations at over 60 events in the past two years. In the fall of 2018, Tara became the first professor in the state of Florida to teach a law school course on marijuana law and policy at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she continues to teach today.

Prior to joining the firm, Tara worked as a legal extern for the University of Florida General Counsel and Office of the Vice President as well as for the Orlando Juvenile Public Defenders Office. For over a decade, she has also worked professionally as a private speech and debate coach and taught at multiple national debate institutes, including the National Debate Forum at Emerson University, the National Symposium for Debate at Grinnell College and Victory Briefs Institute at UCLA.

Tara is a contributing writer at the Orlando Sentinel and has spoken about various real estate topics on Fox News.

To view Tara's information specific to Land Use or Cannabis, click the corresponding links below. 

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