On Wednesday, April 1st, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ issued an executive order that went into effect as of today. Essentially, the Governor’s statewide order replicates the order he put into effect for South Florida on March 30th, codifying the previous local orders put in place by Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties that all non-essential retail and commercial establishments close or allow employees to work remotely until April 30th. The order describes essential services and essential activities and directs the elderly and those at risk to stay home.
While the number and rate of emergency orders issued may sometimes seem confusing or conflicting, in fact, marine industry businesses remain “essential services” in this latest emergency order. Florida is following the list of essential services detailed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce issued on March 28th, which includes the following description within the list of identified essential critical infrastructure workers:
Maritime transportation workers, including dredgers, port workers, mariners, ship crewmembers, ship pilots and tugboat operators, equipment operators (to include maintenance and repair, and maritime-specific medical providers), ship supply, chandler, and repair companies.
To the extent possible, working remotely is vigorously encouraged, however, strict adherence to the Center for Disease Control social distancing and hygiene guidelines is appropriate for those who cannot.
Although many yards, marinas, and marine-based companies are still hard at work, some of our friends and neighbors have had to make some sacrifices and difficult decisions. Fortunately, there is true economic relief to be found in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed by the President. Included in the $2 trillion stimulus bill is a $350 million allocation to provide much needed relief to individuals and help to small businesses to keep workers employed. For instance, the Paycheck Repayment Program provides federally guaranteed loans that may be forgiven if borrowers maintain payrolls during the crisis or restore payrolls afterward. Small businesses, non-profits, sole proprietors, and independent contractors are eligible. Loans can be up to 2.5 times the borrower’s monthly average payroll cost and 100% forgiven under specific conditions. Business owners can apply here:
While this is an unprecedented event in recent world history, it is encouraging to witness the strength and solidarity of our fellow Floridians and Americans who are tackling this healthcare crisis on the frontlines and helping to restore order sooner rather than later. Even though it is likely to get worse before it gets better, with the peak of the pandemic currently estimated to hit Florida in the first week of May, we can see the curve flattening in areas hit earlier, giving us hope and confidence that our efforts today will help contain the disease and spur the recovery going forward.
I am optimistic that by October, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show will become a pivotal social and economic event for the world-wide boating community and a reset button for the marine industry. As always, we will soldier through these challenging times together and emerge on the other side ready, willing, and able.
Phil Purcell, CEO/president
Marine Industries Association of South Florida