Executive order: Orange County businesses non-compliant with COVID-19 safety guidelines will be fined $500-$15,000

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Orange County issued an executive order that will allow fining businesses $500-$15,000 for not complying with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The executive order goes into effect on Sunday, December 6, at 12:01 a.m.

Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings signed Executive Order 2020-51 on the afternoon of Friday, December 4, around one hour before holding the county’s press conference on COVID-19.

“Our goal is simple: It’s to target the few bad actors,” Demings said at the news conference. “I call them bad actors because these are the one who act like they care about the personal safety of others, when in fact they only care about their bottom line. They put profit over people. The businesses who are the good actors and which comply with this order need not worry about the penalties, for they are the ones who put people over profit.”

The decision to sign the executive order stemmed from how “today things have changed” in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Demings explained. He said he spoke with two Orange County employees who have been hospitalized for testing positive. As well, one of those employees’ daughter contracted the coronavirus but recovered without hospitalization. Members of Demings’s own family also tested positive.

To further illustrate his point, Demings asked the audience for a show of hands regarding who knows someone who tested positive or died from the coronavirus. Many hands went up, compared to nine months ago when so few hands had gone up.

“So when we give the cumulative numbers, they represent real human beings and it saddens me to see the numbers continue to grow because that means another family has been touched by COVID,” Demings said.

Executive order 2020-51 requires businesses to observe social distancing of six feet, ask anyone at such establishments to wear face masks, set up signage reminding people to wear masks, and use markings for social distancing. The executive order doesn’t limit restaurant capacity.

Fines outlined in executive order 2020-51

Executive order 2020-51 outlines the following fines:

  • $500 for immediate citations issued by code enforcement officers or law enforcement officers;
  • or alternatively, a fine not to exceed $1,000 per day for a first violation imposed by a special magistrate and $5,000 per day for a repeat violation imposed by a special magistrate.

    *These are pursuant to Chapter 11, Orange County Code and Chapter 162 of Florida Statutes.

  • If a special magistrate finds a violation to be irreparable or irreversible in nature, it may impose a fine not to exceed $15,000 per violation.

    *If the immediate citation is not contested as set forth in Chapter 11, Section 11-65, Orange County Code, the violation shall be classified as a Class III violation with a reduced penalty as indicated in Chapter 11, Section 11-67.

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