Florida Gov. DeSantis says gyms can reopen, restaurants can increase capacity and more starting next week

click to enlarge Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday - Screenshot via the Florida Channel
Screenshot via the Florida Channel
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday

Speaking to reporters in Jacksonville this afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida will enter what he calls a “full Phase One,” while the state still deals with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

"Today, we are going to move into, effective Monday, into a full phase one," said the governor. "I think that this is appropriate given the progress that Florida has made."

Beginning May 18, museums, libraries, restaurants and retail stores will all be able to increase capacity to 50%.

Gyms can also operate, with social distancing in place, said the governor. "This is a respiratory virus that tends to attack people who have health problems or are not in good physical condition. So don't we want people to stay in shape?" asked DeSantis.

Under "full Phase One," vulnerable populations would still be asked to self-isolate, and social distancing is still encouraged. 

Today’s announcement comes as Florida reached 42,210 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and logged 1,875 deaths.

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DeSantis also stated that professional sports venues can resume training with athletes, and encouraged organizations and teams in more restricted states that want to operate to relocate to Florida. 

Decisions on short-term vacation rentals will be left to counties, said DeSantis. Local governments will have to submit a plan to the state of Florida outlining safety precautions. 

On a similar note, amusement parks were also part of today's “full Phase One” plan, and now can submit reopening plans to the state of Florida, outlining and explaining exactly how they’re going to safely protect guests. This permit would also need to be approved by the state. 

"Some of the things we could've done but didn't initially, we're now adding, and I think this is appropriate given the progress that Florida's made," said DeSantis.

Notably, movie theaters, bars and concert venues were not included in today’s announcements.

"I think the only thing we aren't doing in the president's guidelines is movie theaters," said DeSantis. "When you're in an enclosed indoor environment, the virus is just more transmittable. Of course, drive-through theaters are 100% fine."

Today's news comes as Florida reached 42,210 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and logged 1,875 deaths. It's worth mentioning that 43% of the overall number of deaths in Florida occurred in long-term care facilities, something the governor stated he wants to reopen for public visitors again. 

This story originally appeared in our sister paper Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
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