This update is coming to you a little earlier in the week because there have been some important developments that I wanted to share with you regarding federal unemployment benefits and Governor DeSantis' announcement about phase 1 of Florida's reopening. Read on for details.
Phase 1 of Florida's Reopening
Governor DeSantis announced phase 1 of his plan to reopen Florida late yesterday, officially titled "Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step." There are a lot of details to parse through regarding the plan and the executive orders that go along with it but below is a general overview of the highpoints.
* Phase I of the reopening begins Monday, May 4th and excludes Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
* During Phase I, schools will remain closed and continue to utilize distance learning.
* Visitors to nursing homes and state prisons will continue to be restricted.
* Hospitals and surgical centers will be allowed to conduct non-essential, elective procedures, provided they have sufficient PPE supplies.
* Parks, golf courses and other outdoor recreation areas will be opened for passive recreation.
* Sporting events that broadcast without direct fan attendance will be allowed.
* Restaurants will be allowed to open on a limited basis: indoor seating only 25% of capacity and outdoor seating, consistent with social distance guidelines.
* Retail is allowed to open so long as they limit to 25% of capacity.
* The following businesses remain closed during Phase I: movie theaters, bars, nightclubs, gyms, barbershops and salons.
* No timeline for Phase II has been announced. The timing will be guided by a data driven approach that assesses positive case rate and hospital capacity.
New Executive Orders
Governor DeSantis had to issue some executive orders to put the phase 1 plan into motion. Executive order 2020-112<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/OtbqF0iV8xCDZLdAtIcLVg> contains the bulk of the information regarding the first phase of the governor's recovery plan. Executive order 2020-111<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/KMI3QUuAcwyBzt4KR8lm8g> was necessary to extend some of his previous executive orders, such as the one that suspends vacation rentals, until the phase 1 plan begins on May 4th. Please note that we continue to advocate that vacation rentals be reopened.
The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) finally completed their portal for federal unemployment benefits for independent contracts, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). This is significant news for members because it means the system is now capable of accepting PUA applications — but only if you’ve been denied state benefits first.
Per DEO, if you submitted an unemployment application on or before April 4, YOU NEED TO APPLY AGAIN<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/AJ-LjSCwXJYmR_qPoR0_Dw>. If you submitted an application on or after April 5, you DO NOT need to reapply. In both cases, you will be denied state benefits once they process your application. After you’re denied state benefits, you will either receive a notification within the system to apply for PUA benefits, or DEO will contact you directly with instructions. Once that happens, you will be able to follow a step-by-step guide<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/gJQMQXg4aiBVOi5i08EHqQ> published by DEO to complete and submit your PUA application.
A helpful summary and FAQ of the PUA application process can be found here<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/nqpRaSes8iPdulwDDA--0g>. Additionally, DEO will be paying benefits retroactively from when you became eligible under the CARES Act, as outlined in their COVID-19 resource guide<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/p-QMXLVXs9xcKlByFjVfWw> (independent contractor question is on page 11).
All the links I provided above, and more, can be found on DEO’s CARES Act website<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/2XSHUypVVPJm5Bd5nSQtAQ>. We also have updated our comprehensive FAQ<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/Q9zLfypMrVoCGsRtaYgjQA> to reflect this new information.
These, and many other topics can be found on our coronavirus website<https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/p72v4QPGRnL5MdJGELaq0A> so keep it bookmarked until this crisis is over. Most importantly, stay safe and stay healthy.