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Florida stay-at-home order potentially forces pro wrestling into a break

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Coronavirus in Florida Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

After weeks of resisting the call for a statewide order, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced today (April 1) that he will sign an executive order for people to stay-at-home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

The order begins at midnight and will remain in effect for 30 days.

Florida was the only state with more than 5,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and no statewide order (according to Johns Hopkins, Florida currently has 6,955 cases, with 87 deaths). DeSantis had indicated he believed local directives in South Florida and individual cities & counties would be sufficient. He also said he was waiting for a recommendation from the White House’s coronavirus task force to mandate stricter social distances practices. The Governor’s new position comes with estimates indicating 1000s of deaths in Florida even with the order, and the U.S. Surgeon General saying existing federal guidelines are effectively “a national stay-at-home order”.

This presents another hurdle for WWE and AEW if they want to continue producing shows for television. It should be the latest sign it’s time for a break.

WWE has material filmed for this weekend’s WrestleMania 36 shows, as well as the April 6 Raw and the April 8 NXT. They had reportedly planned to resume filming after the stay-at-home order issued by Orange County - which includes Orlando and its suburbs, where both Full Sail University and their Performance Center are located - expired on April 10.

Now, it appears they would have to find another state to film in, or somehow lobby their way onto DeSantis’ list of essential businesses that are exempt from his order.

AEW moved from Jacksonville’s Daily’s Place this week to an “undisclosed location” somewhere else in the Southeastern U.S. They were said to be spending yesterday and today filming as much material as possible. There’s no official word on where they’re working this week, but speculation has focused on the wrestling school in Georgia Cody Rhodes has an ownership stake in, and Matt Hardy’s North Carolina “compound” where he’s filmed material for WWE & Impact in the past. The latter seems unlikely for major production, since the state has had a stay-at-home order in place since Monday (Mar. 30).

We’ll see what Vince McMahon, Tony Khan, and their teams opt to do.

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