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Shut-Down Florida Deems WWE ‘Essential Business’

Monday’s ”Raw“ marked pro-wrestling company’s return from taped programming — still without a live audience

WWE was named an “essential business” in Florida last week amid a statewide stay-at-home order, which was enacted earlier this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This reclassification allows the company to resume shooting live shows, sans a live audience, out of its Orlando training facility and Full Sail University in Winter Park.

On April 9, a memo from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office revealed that the pro-wrestling company had been added to the state’s list of “essential services,” as the document extended the term to 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.”

WWE was not included in the initial round of businesses that were deemed “essential” when DeSantis announced Florida’s stay-at-home order on April 3 — a mandate that is set to run through at least April 30. Those companies were mainly limited to the ones that provide health care, food and transportation services.

But a representative for DeSantis told ESPN on Monday that the new additions, which include WWE, are considered “critical to Florida’s economy.”

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” WWE said in a statement to TheWrap Tuesday. “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.”

Last night’s airing of “Raw” on USA Network marked WWE’s return to live shows, as the pro-wrestling promotion has been airing only taped programming for the last few weeks — including WrestleMania 36 earlier this month — due to the pandemic.

Along with “Raw,” WWE’s other weekly shows include “NXT,” which airs Wednesdays on USA, and Fox’s “SmackDown” on Fridays.