Updated Apr 14, 2020 - Sports

WWE deemed an essential business in Florida

A WWE press room in Las Vegas
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Orange County's mayor told a briefing Monday live televised wrestling matches at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando can go ahead because Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) deemed it an "essential business."

Why it matters: The WWE is one of the few entertainment and sporting enterprises still holding events during the COVID-19 pandemic. It plans to continue holding shows in closed sets despite an employee testing positive for COVID-19, starting with its "Raw" event on Monday night.

  • The decision opens up the possibility that other sports and events could now go ahead in Florida.

Details: Mayor Jerry Demings said the WWE was not initially deemed an essential business in Florida, but "some conversation with the governor's office" regarding the state's stay-at-home order with the WWE meant "they were deemed an essential business." "Therefore, they were allowed to remain open," he said.

  • DeSantis' office alerted Orange County to the update in an executive order last week. "The Governor’s Executive Order supersedes the Mayor’s Emergency Executive Order that was initially in place," the mayor's office said in a statement to Axios.
  • The order states that essential employees now include "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."

What they're saying: The WWE said in a statement the enterprise decided to continue for reasons including that the employee who tested positive for the coronavirus had no contact with anyone from WWE since their diagnosis and that they had made a "complete recovery," per Pro Wrestling Sheet.

  • "We believe this matter is low risk to WWE talent and staff, as the individual and a roommate became symptomatic in the days following exposure to two people working in acute health care on the evening of March 26, after WWE's TV production on a closed set was already complete," the WWE said.
  • The WWE stressed in a later statement to news outlets "only essential personnel" would be at the closed set and that officials would follow health precautions.
"We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times."

Go deeper: ESPN hit hardest after coronavirus shuts down live sports

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comments from Demings and his office.

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