By Justin Tolley

Broward County’s latest emergency order deems construction professionals “essential” and therefore exempt from mandatory closures to which many other industries are now subject, but employees may need to verify their status to authorities. On March 23rd, 2020, in yet another attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19, Broward County issued South Florida’s latest emergency order mandating that all “non-essential” businesses close their doors until further notice. The order will force a significant number of businesses to close their doors including: theaters, gyms, salons, spas, museums, casinos, racetracks, shopping malls, bowling alleys, as well as sporting, and concert venues in an increased effort to address the rapidly escalating pandemic. In line with Miami Dade County’s March 19th emergency order, Broward County’s emergency order provides for several categories of exceptions to closure, the following of which apply to construction professionals specifically:

a) Contractors and other tradesmen, building management and maintenance (including janitorial companies servicing commercial businesses), home security firms, fire and water damage restoration, public adjusters, appliance repair personnel, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other structures;
Landscape and pool care businesses, including residential landscape and pool care services;

b) Open construction sites, irrespective of the type of building;

c) Businesses providing architectural, engineering, or land surveying services, but only with regard to ongoing construction projects in which construction has already commenced and provided that such businesses operate in full compliance with all measures advised by the CDC regarding social distancing.

d) Despite the construction industry’s exemption from mandatory closures across much of South Florida, many counties are setting up police check points to ensure motorists are essential employees permitted to be on the roads. For example, Monroe County is mandating travel restrictions which will prohibit travel to all individuals except for residents and essential employees engaged in work in the Monroe County. These restrictions will be enforced by police checkpoints where travelers will be required to provide proof of residency or essential employee status.

As such, construction employers would be wise to arm their employees with an official letter indicating they are an employee of an essential business as defined by the controlling emergency order. Click here for an essential employee sample letter. In addition to the essential employee letter, County officials are also asking essential business owners to instruct