FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward County is closing all non-essential retail and commercial businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The closure will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 23.

The Emergency Order goes into detail about which retail and commercial businesses are considered essential, and directed to remain open. They include, but are not limited to, healthcare providers and equipment suppliers, doctor’s offices and urgent care centers, mental health professionals, home health care service providers, grocery stores and pharmacies, businesses that provide food, shelter, social services and other necessities for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, banks, gas stations and media.

The order is directed at cities and unincorporated areas. That means clothing stores, nail salons, and barbershops will close. However, managers and some employees can still show up to help maintain their locations.

“Inventory. Preserve and plant equipment. Ensuring security. Process their own payroll and employee benefits,” said Broward Mayor Dale Holness.

Businesses that do remain open are being told to implement health professional recommendations for social distancing and all other preventive measures.

“The closure of non-essential businesses is a further step in community mitigation to increase containment of the COVID-19 virus in Broward County,” said Holness in a news conference Sunday evening. “While these are incredibly painful steps to take with devastating short- and long-term impacts to our community, the potential impacts of COVID-19 on our residents and visitors are much more devastating. We must take every responsible action that we can to quickly mitigate the spread of this deadly virus.”

“This is a time we are all going to have to dig in and make sacrifices. I, myself, would like to go to the movies. I, myself, would like to spend time with my friends. But this is not the time,” said Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said.

Broward County has also partnered with the Florida Department of Health to open a special COVID-19 hotline to assist in answering public questions. Call takers can also conduct over-the-phone pre-screening for testing eligibility.

The new number is 954-357-9500. T

he temporary COVID-19 call center will accept calls from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. 7 days a week.

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