All “non-essential” businesses in Palm Beach and Broward counties must shut down as part of containing the coronavirus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday afternoon.
DeSantis has developed a plan to help the two counties craft orders to shut down those businesses by Friday.
Among businesses considered essential are grocery stores, gas stations, day care facilities and pet supply stores. Non-essential businesses, like restaurants and retail stores, are required to close or convert to take-out only.
The governor made the announcement while visiting a new drive-thru testing site at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines.
Late Thursday evening, Palm Beach County officials said they expect another executive order from Gov. DeSantis which will place additional restrictions and community actions on dine-in restaurant services, certain types of business establishments, and beaches. Those changes are to be announced Friday.
Earlier in the day, Miami-Dade County’s mayor ordered all beaches, parks and “non-essential” commercial and retail businesses there to closed as well.
“We must all act as if we are infected and take every precautionary step to prevent transmitting this virus,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in his announcement.
Officials in the Florida Keys have also ordered hotels, guest houses, short-term rentals in RV parks and vacation rentals to close throughout Monroe County starting Sunday at 6 p.m. That policy will remain in effect for two weeks until further notice, and county officials will reevaluate it every day.
The Keys ban applies to all tourists and non-essential personnel who are not working there. Restaurants will operate at 50 percent capacity to continue serving residents. County-owned beaches and parks throughout the Keys will remain open for residents “to practice social distancing that is productive for mental and physical health,” officials added.
As of Thursday evening, the state has 432 positive cases of coronavirus, with 29 in Palm Beach County, 96 in Broward County, and 101 in Miami-Dade County. That makes South Florida the state’s epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. Officials increased Florida’s death toll to nine after a patient died in Duval County. They added there are no mandatory quarantine or isolation orders in the state at this time.
The revised count includes one new case of the coronavirus in Indian River County.
The state’s website says that patient is a woman, but it is unclear if the case is travel related.
Health officials previously confirmed the Treasure Coast’s first case, which is in Martin County.
UPDATED: Gov. DeSantis Touts Broward Testing Site; 432 Cases, 9 Deaths in Florida