Expect Friday to be one heck of a T.G.I.F. day.
Citing low percentages of positive coronavirus tests and other encouraging data in the fight against COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis said a majority of the state of Florida can step up to Phase II of the plan to re-open the Florida economy.
He made the announcement at Universal Orlando, which opens today and Thursday for select annual passholders and to the general public on Friday.
I'm pleased to announce that the Original Phase 1 Florida counties (all except Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach) may enter Phase 2 effective Friday, June 5, 2020. pic.twitter.com/ChEINqYW1W
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 3, 2020
Just like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were brought into Phase I in May slower, they are excluded on Friday, but DeSantis said they’d be able to petition for inclusion later on.
Friday will be the day that bars, bowling alleys, movie theaters and entertainment complexes like playhouses — closed since around St. Patrick’s Day — can reopen at 50 percent capacity while adhering to strict CDC social distancing and sanitizing protocols. Personal services like tattoo parlors may operate under Department of Health guidelines.
Bars can offer outdoor service with tables six feet apart.
“We will be going with bars diminishing standing room only and outdoor seating with social distance,” DeSantis said. “You’re seated to get served. It’s fine to go enjoy a drink, we just don’t want to have huge crowds piling in.”
Restaurants, retail locations and gyms, which were allowed to operate at 25 percent of indoor seating capacity on May 4 and 50 percent on May 18 can now operate at full capacity, with social distancing still in effect.
Pari-mutual locations that have things like racing sportsbooks, slots and cardrooms may submit a request to open with a safety plan, “similar to what the theme parks did,” DeSantis said.
Among the stats and data DeSantis cited in his announcement were that zero deaths have been among those 18 and under 85 percent of COVID-19 fatalities in Florida have been aged 65 and up (the Florida Department of Health stats verify that) — more more deaths of those over 90 than under 65, and that those over 65 and in assisted living facilities were at the most risk — and that the number of positive Floridians in ICUs and on ventilators has dropped from 50 to 65 percent since April 12.
This is still not a full re-opening of society. Those over 65 years old or with underlying medical conditions are still “strongly urged” to avoid crowds and take measures to limit the risk of exposure. All long-term care facility employees should still be tested for COVID-19 regularly. And DeSantis asked all Floridians to avoid congregating in groups larger than 50 — that number was 10 under Phase I.
In Osceola County, there is still a mandate to wear face coverings in public. Many businesses are enforcing this to the letter. Continue to do so in order for hopefully hearing about an announcement about Florida moving to Phase III.