Florida gyms and fitness centers may reopen on Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this afternoon at a press conference in Jacksonville.
Calling it a move to a “a full Phase I”, restaurants, retail outlets and libraries will also be able to go to 50 percent inside capacity on Monday. All locations must still adhere to six-foot social distancing and sanitation guidelines. The move to expand restaurant capacity was to make those that lend more to eat-in service rather than take-out more viable.
Gyms weren’t part of Phase I plan that began on May 4. DeSantis said that was part of a commitment to go “slow, smart and safe.”
“Don’t be want people to be getting exercise and staying in shape?” DeSantis said. “It will make them more resistant to severe consequences.
“You need a functioning society to fight a pandemic. Challenges have stemmed from the mitigation. The American people never signed up for a perpetual shelter-in-place.”
DeSantis broached the subject of re-opening vacation homes rentals, which Osceola County has asked to reopen with officials sending a letter to Tallahassee. He said that’s exactly how he’s willing to take it up locally, as long as counties ask — and include a safety plan to help stem the spread of the virus in those rental homes.
Bars were not part of the federal Phase I guidelines, and they remain closed. Theme parks can submit reopening plans to the state, including a certain date they can resume safe operation and and endorsement from local officials.
Opening more spaces is appropriate given Florida’s progress in slowing virus spread and testing, DeSantis said.
“Being in a barber shop is like being in an operating room now,” he said.
Another part of Phase I will be expanding mobile testing teams and antibody testing for long-term care facility employees through local Departments of Health and Florida National Guard.
“We’ve got to do even more. The bulk of fatalities tied to nursing homes and 84 percent of COVID-19 fatalities have been aged 65 and up,” DeSantis said.