May 2, 2020
By Sarah McCormick
Governor Ron DeSantis is ready for Florida to get back to business, and the Phases begin Monday.
Hillsborough County is preparing for their long-awaited re-opening of certain businesses this coming Monday, while Pasco County is opening five of its parks this weekend with many already having been opened in April.
Despite what was anticipated of Florida in terms of cases and deaths, DeSantis states that a lot of what the media had done was instill fear, noting there have not been the large eruption of cases that were predicted in the state.
Florida’s death toll from COVID-19 currently stands at 1,268 statewide, with 33,690 confirmed cases, with Miami-Dade County leading the state in both confirmed cases at 11,570 and 302 deaths.
The statewide Safer-at-Home order is set to expire this coming Monday, May 4th, and with it comes the freedom for certain businesses in the State to begin opening their doors carefully by following specific guidelines.
Miami-Dade County is exempt from re-opening at this time due to the high influx of current cases. It is designated as Florida’s most intense hot spots.
Businesses are only able to open at a limited capacity of 25%, and all patrons of the business must be 6 feet apart. Additionally, restaurants can have outdoor seating with respect to the social distancing guidelines, also at 6 feet apart per table.
As far as medical procedures are concerned, those who have been waiting to undergo elective surgery will be able to do so after this coming Monday, however; it is still suggested to hold off if at all possible.
Still to remain closed to the public are gyms, bars and clubs, beauty salons and assisted care facilities until Phase 2 is unveiled, which is undetermined as far as a date is concerned at this time. It was discussed, however, that when Phase 2 rolls around, businesses will be allowed to operate at a max capacity of 50%, and gyms will be able to operate at 75% capacity.
Restaurants would also be able to operate at 75% capacity. Following in these businesses’ footsteps, beauty salons and barbershops would be able to begin to open with strict guidelines being followed. DeSantis expects getting to Phase 2 will take mere weeks, not months.
People are still very much encouraged to social distance and follow the federal guidelines to continue to flatten the curve. Governor DeSantis is asking residents to please wear a mask whenever feasible, however; he claims no fines will be imposed for those who choose not to wear masks.
The Governor flew to Washington over the past week to meet with President Trump, discussing plans to re-open the state and getting the President’s input on factors at play. It was after that meeting that DeSantis made the decision to reopen in a safe, concise fashion. DeSantis announced his new plan for reopening the state is known as Safe, Smart, and Step by Step.
DeSantis stated in a press conference Friday morning that, “Sunlight kills the virus,” according to information from a Department of Homeland Security Bio-Defense lab study. This study showed how UV light can be used, much like sunlight, to kill the novel Coronavirus, and therefore, DeSantis stated, “People can go out, get sunlight, get fresh air. It’s good for peace of mind.”
What DeSantis says the biggest problem is surrounding COVID-19, is fear. “Fear is our enemy. We are a resourceful people with a can-do spirit. We can do what we need to do to protect our vulnerable populations from the coronavirus while taking safe, smart steps toward rebuilding Florida’s foundation.
As Phase 1 rolls in and business gets used to its new normal, only good things are on the horizon for Florida.
Maintaining social distancing, continuing to use good hygiene, and using basic common sense will help to continue the flattening of the curve, providing Florida with hope for the future.