Coronavirus: DeSantis says Florida will get tougher on businesses breaking rules

Gov. Ron DeSantis gives coronavirus update from Orlando Regional Medical Center

SUNNY ISLES BEACH, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis says the “grim reaper” is coming for Florida businesses that aren’t following the state’s guidelines to prevent coronavirus spread.

By that, he means stripping business licenses “because there’s not going to be any tolerance for it.”

DeSantis spoke in Orlando on Tuesday, the day after Florida passed 100,000 cases of COFID-19.

The governor said his orders about social distancing and reducing occupancy in businesses are just that — orders. Not suggestions.

“The guidelines are in place for a reason. You’re not doing it just to do it,” he said. “If you don’t follow the guidelines and pack huge numbers of people indoors that are very close, you’re creating an environment where you’re going to see more spread.”

Watch DeSantis’ Tuesday news conference below:

South Florida’s two largest counties have been sending the same message. Miami-Dade and Broward have both hit businesses with warnings and citations, with some shut down until they could prove they were complying with the emergency order.

The governor was joined by Halsey Beshears, secretary of Florida’s department of business and professional regulation, who said they will be suspending licenses of businesses who are flagrantly breaking the rules.

“If you’re not willing to do that then you’re going to get a visit here from, I guess he’ll be the grim reaper in terms of business licenses,” DeSantis said of Beshears.

“If people see a pub or restaurant, if they’re operating at 55% percent, give them a warning,” DeSantis added. “But if you go in and it’s just like mayhem, like ‘Dance Party USA’ and it’s packed to the rafters, that’s just cut and dry and that’s not just an innocent mistake.”

The city of Fort Lauderdale told Local 10 News that it forced nine restaurants this weekend to close for 24 hours, or until they showed their violations were fixed.

Police departments and code enforcement agencies in both Miami-Dade and Broward are busy, looking for anyone breaking the rules, and putting people at risk.

“I have contacted several sheriffs. I’m going to continue to do that throughout the state,” Beshears said. “We have ABT [Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco] officers that are going to be out from 5 p.m.-1 a.m. checking on these bars and restaurants that are in violation of this.

“We are going to issue warnings to those who are trying to do the best they can, but that’s not what we’re talking about. ... Those that were flagrant, we will be suspending their license.”

NOTE: The video package previously at the top of this story mentioned Shula’s Hotel and Golf Club and Shula’s Athletic Club among the businesses that were temporarily closed by Miami-Dade police for violations. Miami-Dade police have since said that the information they provided was inaccurate and those businesses were not cited.

About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.