WWE Deemed 'Essential' Service by Florida, Will Return to Live Televised Shows
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared that professional sports league employees and media partners are “essential” amid the coronavirus
As coronavirus ravages communities and prompts the closures of sports leagues, TV tapings, festivals, and more, WWE has become an exception.
The Florida Governor’s offices deemed professional sports league employees and their media partners “essential,” according to an April 9 memo, allowing the Orlando-based wrestling league to reopen while much of the state operates under a “Safer at Home” order through the end of the month.
“Employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including 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 memo from Gov. Ron DeSantis read.
Other essential businesses in Florida include grocery stores, hospitals and banks.
Following the order, WWE resumed their live shows Monday after airing only taped matches for weeks.
“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” WWE told CNN 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.”
WrestleMania, WWE’s largest event, was held last week and included extra precautions, such as requiring talent and staff to undergo medical screenings. Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski hosted the event, which featured John Cena, The Undertaker and Edge, among other wrestling stars
“There’s probably no greater time — at least in my memory, in my generation — where people need entertainment,” Paul Levesque, the company’s executive vice president of global talent strategy and development, told PEOPLE prior to WrestleMania. “They need that relief. They need a distraction and something to be entertained by.”
“At the end of the day, there’s also something to be said about trying to move forward and give people some normalcy,” Levesque, better known by his ring name, “Triple H,” added. “And I think over time, especially for us because there’s the entertainment factor, I think people will look back in hindsight favorably upon that.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.