ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Hours before it was set to take effect late Thursday, Orange County leaders announced changes to the countywide stay-at-home order issued in response to the coronavirus.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings signed an executive order earlier this week stating that a stay-at-home order would go into effect at 11 p.m. Thursday and remain in place through 11 p.m. on April 9 in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Under the order, the mayor directed all non-essential retail and commercial businesses to close and asked residents to avoid all non-essential travel.
[Timeline: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]
In a news conference Thursday, however, Demings said he had received numerous questions since he announced the order Tuesday regarding what would and would not be considered an essential business.
Demings said he has since made amendments to the order to offer residents some clarification.
As part of the updated order, all businesses can continue to conduct minimum basic operations, like payroll, Demings said.
The mayor said that even businesses that are considered essential should allow employees to work from home if possible.
“We all need to be mindful and operate remotely when we can,” Demings said.
The mayor said residents can find answers to their questions about the order and an updated copy of it at OCFL.net/coronavirus.
The stay-at-home order is still set to go into effect at 11 p.m. Thursday. The mayor said the county’s nightly curfew, which runs from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., also remains in effect until further notice.
At last check, more than 2,300 cases of COVID-19 have been reported statewide, with at least 110 confirmed cases in Orange County.
According to the mayor, the youngest person to test positive for the novel coronavirus in Orange County is 9 years old. Demings said four deaths have been reported countywide.
Orange and Osceola counties have more cases reported than other Central Florida counties, according to numbers from the Florida Department of Health. Osceola, which has at least 42 cases of COVID-19, has also issued a mandatory stay-at-home order. Thus far, those two are the only local counties to do so.
In recent days, Gov. Ron DeSantis has doubled down on his reasoning for not issuing a state-wide mandate, saying that it would be too disruptive to businesses and the everyday lives of those who live in areas without community transmission.
Based on the most recent numbers, at least 20 Florida counties have reported zero cases. Those counties are primarily located in North Florida and the panhandle, while Broward and Miami-Dade counties have seen the highest concentration, with 1,120 cases between the two of them.