Governor Ron DeSantis at a press conference on April 29th.
Although the legislative session has come to an end, how to reopen Florida amid the COVID-19 pandemic is on everyone’s agenda.
The state, like the nation, has seen an incredible increase in unemployment because of the shutdown. According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, more than 1.7 million Floridians have filed for unemployment and 452,526 claims have been paid.
With mounting pressure to reopen the economy, Governor Ron DeSantis announced his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan” for Florida’s Recovery in a press conference on April 29th.
The Governor’s Executive Order 20-112 will go into effect statewide May 4th, however in coordination with Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach county mayors, these three counties will follow stricter protocol without the re-open provisions of the Executive Order.
For businesses, Phase 1 will allow restaurant dining rooms to open at 25% building capacity and full outdoor seating. On-site sale and retail businesses will also be allowed to operate at 25% occupancy. All businesses are encouraged to continue to provide delivery or pickup and to take orders online or by telephone, and business that are currently open may remain open and should continue appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures. Bars, nightclubs and gyms, however, will remain closed during Phase 1 of re-opening.
Businesses that exceed 25% capacity may face enforcement penalties including a second-degree misdemeanor with a fine up to $500. Certain regulated businesses may face enforcement action for violations from their regulatory agency.
In response to the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan” Florida Senate President Bill Galvano released the following statement, "The 'Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery' announced today by Governor DeSantis represents a fact-based, strategic and measured approach that responsibly balances the resilient spirit of hardworking Floridians across our state who are eager to return to work with sensible and science-based public health guidelines developed in conjunction with medical professionals.”
However, not everyone was pleased with the announcement or how DeSantis has addressed the effects of the pandemic in the state.
"More than 1,000 Floridians have died in this pandemic, but you wouldn’t know it listening to Governor DeSantis’ indignant press conference today," Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo said. "Enough with the self-congratulatory media performances, where are the tests?”
According to the Florida Department of Health, confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in Florida have reached more than 36,000, resulting in at least 1,379 deaths.
Although Phase 1 is set to go into effect Monday, the Governor does recommend that vulnerable individuals avoid close contact with people in public, that everyone maintains social distancing and that groups of 10 or more are avoided in social settings.
In addition, local governments will have the ability to impose local restrictions. The "Safer-at-Home" order that went into effect on April 3rd for the entire state, which allowed only essential activities and services, will remain in effect in most of South Florida until further notice.
For more information on “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan” and other Executive Orders from Governor DeSantis, visit https://www.flgov.com/.
The “Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step Plan” pdf can be found here.