Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Outlines Phase 1 of State Reopening
“Facts should be comforting. We’ve done better than everyone said we would do.”
Governor Ron DeSantis says that Florida is ready to reopen for business—at least in part.
In a press conference held today, the governor announced that he would direct the state to begin reopening businesses in a phased approach starting Monday, May 4.
Phase 1 is set to roll out across all counties in Florida with the exception of Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties, the area hardest hit with COVID-19 infection. The decision to exclude the Southeast Florida counties was made in conjunction with leadership from those counties, according to the governor.
During Phase 1:
- Schools will continue distance learning.
- Visitors to senior living facilities will continue to be prohibited.
- Elective surgeries can resume.
- Restaurants can offer outdoor seating with 6 feet between tables and indoor seating with 25% capacity.
- Retail can operate at 25% capacity.
At this point, there is no change for bars, gyms, and personal services (ex. hairdressers) and movie theaters. These businesses will continue to be closed, with the exception of retail offerings (ex. hairdressers can sell product.)
Notably absent from the conversation was any mention of theme parks, beaches or hotels.
However, Phase 1 carries the following suggestions and guidelines:
- Vulnerable populations should avoid close contact outside the home.
- All people should continue to maximize distance whenever possible.
- Residents should continue to avoid socializing in groups of more than 10
- Face masks are recommended for face-to-face interactions where people cannot socially distance from one another, but are not expressly ordered or required.
Prior to announcing his plan for reopening the state’s businesses, the governor spoke at length about how the worst predictions about Florida had not materialized.
While discussing how to move forward, he stated that guidelines must consider “protection of civil liberties and maintaining individual rights.” He went on to say that residents should focus on facts, not “scare tactics.”
Governor DeSantis continued by suggesting the following next steps:
- Progress should continue to be driven by data, which officials are studying hourly.
- Officials will continue to follow the health benchmarks set forth in the President’s “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan.”
- The governor’s office will continue to monitor and maintain hospital bed capacity.
- Monitoring the test positivity rate will be key in determining whether the spread of the virus is under control.
- Based on data and guided by medical authorities, the governor does not expect full reopening to take months.
With respect to timeline, Governor DeSantis is hoping to move through the phases—all three based upon White House guidelines—in weeks, not months, by continuing to expand testing.
Further, the state plans to continue with the contact tracing that DeSantis pointed out has been taking place throughout the last six weeks. The governor stated that successful contact tracing had been one of the most effective tools in fighting the spread, especially in lower density areas, where contact tracing was easier to accomplish.
The governor made it clear that leaders within Florida’s communities had the ability to set standards for their own communities. But he expressed doubt that the leaders would know better than the medical experts from the state’s leading hospitals.
“We’ll be smart. We’ll be safe. We’ll do it step by step. But we should have hope,” he said.