WWE was deemed an "essential business" in Florida, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Monday, allowing the company to resume live television shows from its Orlando training facility and Full Sail University in Winter Park.
The decision, outlined in an April 9 memo from Gov. Ron DeSantis' office, could open the door for other sports to resume in the state.
According to Demings, WWE initially was not designated as essential and therefore was not exempt from the state's shelter-in-place order, which took effect April 3 and runs through at least April 30. That decision was reversed after "some conversation" with DeSantis' office, Demings said Monday during a news conference.
Essential businesses that are supposed to remain open during Florida's stay-at-home order include those in the health care, financial, energy, food, communications and transportation sectors. According to the memo sent by the governor's office on Thursday, recent additions to the list of "essential services" in the state 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."
A spokesperson from DeSantis' office told ESPN on Monday that such services were characterized as essential "because they are critical to Florida's economy."
Asked if this would apply to UFC events, the spokesperson said, "The memo does not specify specific sports, as long as the event location is closed to the general public."
The UFC has suspended all events and does not have a time frame for a return, though UFC president Dana White has made it clear that he wants to resume as soon as possible.
Starting Monday with its Raw program, WWE will run live shows without fans after several weeks of taped programming, a spokesperson confirmed to ESPN on Saturday.
"We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times," WWE said in a statement. "We are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance."
WWE has three TV shows per week: Raw (USA Network), NXT (USA Network) on Wednesday and SmackDown (Fox) on Friday.
Information from ESPN's Marc Raimondi was used in this report.