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 their employees to provide a photo identification (preferably a company ID), as well as a 24-hour phone number monitored by the employer to verify the employees identity. In the event this information is provided, and authorities still refuse to permit them to pass, employees should be advised not to argue with officers, and instead simply follow directions of law enforcement and contact their employer promptly.
Essential Employee Authorization to Travel
To Whom It May Concern:
The holder of this letter is an employee of (Insert Company Name), which is a business providing construction services, and/or construction materials and supplies to active construction sites. Therefore, in accordance with Broward County Executive Order 20-01, Section 3(i), (bb), (cc), (dd), or (ii) (Insert Company Name) is an essential business permitted to remain operational so long as social distancing measures are followed.
(Insert Company Name) currently has in place a number of preventative safety procedures and protocol which meet or exceed those required by the CDC, in order to ensure the safety of our team and any individuals who may come in contact with our team. These measures consist of the practice of social distancing wherein employees are instructed to maintain six (6) feet of separation between one another, and groups are generally limited to no more than 10 people whenever possible. Moreover, prophylactic gear such as gloves and masks in addition to hand sanitizer are used frequently when possible and necessary.
As such, the individual in possession of this letter is a “essential business employee” of the construction industry and should be considered exempt from local restrictions such as curfews, shelter-in-place orders, and other travel restrictions when reporting to, returning from, or performing his or her work functions.
Pursuant to the above, this individual is authorized to travel to and from my workplace and to and from locations pursuant to the job duties to support critical infrastructure sectors.
Should you have any questions concerning this letter, please contact [Insert Name], [Insert Title], [Insert Company Name] at [Insert 24-Hour Phone Number].