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How will the executive order be enforced in SWFL?

We all know by now that we’re expected to stay near our homes and limit what we do, but who’s going to make sure the order is being followed?

Streets and parking lots around Southwest Florida are already mostly empty, with so many people choosing to stay home and avoid the spread of COVID-19.

When it comes to enforcing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new ‘safer at home’ order, Marco Island Police said those who violate it could face civil sanctions, fines and/or criminal charges.

But education seemed to the overall message in Southwest Florida.

“First and foremost with any new law or order, our goal is to obtain compliance from the community. We are fortunate to have a community that wants to comply and do the right thing,” said Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk.

The sheriff also said that under the governor’s order, non-compliance could land you with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

“Today, for those who do not want to comply, we now have the ability to take enforcement action under the order as given. And in addition to that, there are going to be very few essential services operating between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. So, if we run into you, we are going to be happy to help you get to the service that you need to go to,” Rambosk said.

In Lee County, the sheriff’s office said they’ve deployed school resource officers, and they’re asking you to take the executive order seriously.

“The last resort, we don’t want to make a difficult situation worse, but we can give a notice to appear or we can arrest and we will if we need to,” Sheriff Carmine Marceno said.

Lee County also explained more about how it will enforce the governor’s “safer-at-home” order once it takes effect after midnight Friday.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office clarified people can get arrested, and that type of enforcement is for people who show they are not taking the executive order seriously, such as people or business owners not complying with the order.

Marceno gave an example of a nail salon he saw was open, but, inside, he saw the owner was painting the walls. He said that would not be against the order.

Marceno and Commissioner Brian Hamman said this is case-specific enforcement related to the state order.

“We need you to stop trying to find loopholes to continue to party,” Hamman said during a public address. “After the questions I’ve gotten today of people looking for loopholes that are continuing to do things that could cause you to catch the virus. We’re doing this to try and protect you. We need your help.”

The ultimate message: Do not worry if you are taking every precaution you can.

The sheriff said we can expect more clarification as their legal team works with the counties and the governor to figure this out.

“I understand the governor and his team are working on some clarifications that they will release over the coming days to help guide us through how this order should be executed,” Hamman said.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office reiterated what other agencies said: education and prevention come first, but any disregard for the executive order could result in a misdemeanor charge.

Everyone is just asking you to take it seriously and limit your movements, except for essential activities.

Enforcement:

Cape Coral Police Department:
“Our primary objective is enforcement through education. However,  egregious violations may result in arrest.”

Fort Myers Police Department:
“We are continuously evaluating the situation. At this time we are educating the community and monitoring however as a law enforcement agency we still hold high standards in keeping and enforcing our communities safety.” – Officer K Capuzzi, Public Information Officer

City of Cape Coral:
“The Governor’s Safer-at-Home Executive Order which requires all persons in Florida to limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities for 30 days. The order does not call for enforcement through fines and charges, however, I would call on all residents to do their part and adhere to this order to combat the spread of COVID 19.” -Mayor Joe Coviello

City of Sanibel:
“It’s initially education first. Second is a fine. By the Governor’s orders it’s a misdemeanor and obviously a fine associated with that. The challenge is trying to do what you can do to get that message through.” -Mayor Kevin Ruane

Charlotte County:
“We are not going to arrest anyone and everyone who is out in the community. The goal is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Any disregard for this Executive Order may result in a misdemeanor charge under Florida State Statute 252.50.”

Here’s a look at some things you CAN and CANNOT do:

Can I go to church?

YES – Religious activities are considered essential activities, though individual jurisdictions decide how many people can gather, so check the rules for your county. Most religious organizations are doing services online now.

Can I get my prescriptions from the pharmacy?

YES – Pharmacies are essential services. Stick to a drive-thru if you can, though.

Can I go to the grocery store?

YES – Grocery stores are essential services. Try to social distance while you’re there.

What about hair salons and barbershops?

NO – Nail salons, hair salons, and barbershops are not considered “essential.”

Can I get food from my favorite restaurant?

YES – But only by pick-up, delivery, or curbside service.

What about the doctor’s office or dentist?

YES – The health care field is considered essential. Consider a telemedicine call if you have the option for the doctor – just in case.

What if my pet gets sick?

YOU’RE GOOD – Veterinarian and pet supply stores are essential. Your self-isolation buddy will be fine.

Can I exercise outside?

YES – Just keep your social distance.

Can I get ammunition for my firearm?

YES – Gun, ammo, and hardware stores are included in “essential services.” Individual stores might close of their own decision, though.

Will banks close?

NO – But some banks may choose to only conduct business through drive-thru. Check with your branch.

What if my car breaks down?

YOU’RE GOOD – Auto repair is considered an essential service. If you need to buy a new one, new and used auto dealerships are still allowed to be open.

Can I get gas?

YES – Gas stations are essential. And gas is pretty cheap right now!

I’m a snowbird. Can I drive home?

YES – It’s an essential activity. Most airports will stay open. Rest areas are considered essential services, but some may individually decide to close certain parts of the rest area.

I own a lawn care service. Will I have to shut down?

NO – Lawn and pool care are considered essential services. It’s up to you what to do with your business.

I have contractors coming to re-do my kitchen! Can they still come?

YES – Contractors, plumbers, electricians, builders, HVAC technicians, etc., are all considered essential.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jackie Winchester
Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know.
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