As noted earlier at this link, WWE was allowed to operate TV tapings and live TV in the state of Florida during coronavirus-related restrictions because they were deemed an essential business by the office of Governor Ron DeSantis.
Orange County, Florida Mayor Jerry Demings was asked about WWE being allowed to continue operations during a press conference earlier today. Demings said that originally WWE was deemed non-essential, but that changed after some talks with the office of Governor Ron DeSantis.
“I think initially there was a review that was done and they were not initially deemed an essential business. With some conversation with the Governor’s office regarding he Governor’s [stay-at-home] order, they were deemed an essential business. Therefore they were allowed to remain open,” Demings said.
In an update, ESPN’s Marc Raimondi reports that he asked Cody McCloud, press secretary for Governor DeSantis, if UFC or a professional boxing match could be deemed essential as WWE was.
McCloud responded, “The memo does not specify specific sports, as long as the event location is closed to the general public.”
Raimondi added on Twitter, “The caveat would be anything like that would have to be at a location closed to the public.”
ESPN reports that the decision that allowed WWE to continue working was outlined in an April 9 memo from DeSantis’ office, and could open the door for other sports to resume in the Sunshine State.
Florida’s shelter-in-place order runs through at least Thursday, April 30, but WWE is exempt from the restrictions after the decision on the company being non-essential was reversed by DeSantis’ office, making the WWE product essential during the pandemic.
Essential businesses that are to remain open during Florida’s stay-at-home order include those in the health care, communications, transportation, financial, energy, and food industries. The memo sent by the Governor’s office last Thursday, April 9, noted that recent additions to the list of “essential services” in Florida include “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only if the location is closed to the general public.”
The change to what counts as essential businesses comes down to money.
A spokesperson from DeSantis office told ESPN on Monday evening that such services were deemed essential “because they are critical to Florida’s economy.”
WWE ran tonight’s RAW episode live from the empty WWE Performance Center in Orlando, still as a closed-set event. However, it seems like they are now bringing in more talent than they have since they started using the closed-set locations, but the number of employees used has not been confirmed. WWE will continue to air WWE NXT, SmackDown and RAW live from the Performance Center and the NXT Arena at Full Sail University.
Stay tuned for updates.