Florida's First Steps: Phase one of reopening begins, what is opened, what is closed, and what's next

Florida, with the exception of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, has entered phase one of reopening amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Ron DeSantis says that the reopening plan for Florida, dubbed the 'Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery,' will be safe, smart, and data-driven. It begins with phase one, a small step that will allow restaurants and retail stores to reopen with limited capacity.

Here's what is allowed as Florida enters phase one:

  • Restaurants can offer outdoor seating with 6-foot spacing between tables and indoor seating is limited to 25-percent capacity.
  • Retail stores can operate at 25-percent of indoor capacity.
  • Elective surgeries can resume.
  • No changes to closures for bars, nightclubs, gyms, theaters, and personal services like salons and hairdressers.
  • Schools remain distance-learning only.
  • Visits to senior living facilities are still prohibited.
  • Pharmacists in Florida will now be allowed to administer COVID-19 tests.
  • Local governments will be allowed to have more restrictive policies than the state.

Phase one also includes guidance to avoid socializing in groups of more than 10, while face coverings are recommended in all face-to-face interactions. Vulnerable individuals should avoid close contact with people outside of the home.

The full report of the 'Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery' can be found below.

MOBILE USERS: Click here to read the full 'Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery' report

In addition, Governor Ron DeSantis is allowing Florida's state parks to reopen on Monday.

Places like gyms, barbershops, bars, nightclubs, and entertainment venues will remain closed under phase one.

MORE NEWS: This is what Florida restaurants must do to reopen on Monday

Governor DeSantis has stressed the importance of social distancing and continued testing in the first phase, but sought to convey a sense that the state was committed to moving forward, citing that "the only thing we have to fear is letting fear overwhelm our sense of purpose and determination."

As Florida moves through the phases, the Governor said that the COVID-19 test positivity rate, hospital bed capacity, and state benchmarks will be considered. He hopes the phases of reopening will each last weeks, not months, but acknowledges that moving onto the next phase will be data-driven. So, the state will take the time that is needed before moving on. A date for the next phase of reopening has not been set yet.

Acknowledging that Florida is a geographically large and diverse state, the 'Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery' allows for local communities to partner with the state and play an important role in the reopening of the state. For example, the Orange County Task Force has called on the Governor to reopen salons and barbershops as part of his phase 1 plan. He has yet to give his approval on this.

The Orange County Economic Task Force has also discussed their own guidelines and mandates for restaurants to reopen in addition to the ones set in place by Governor DeSantis. For example, they said restaurants should:

  • Use paper or disposable menus.
  • Encourage takeout and online orders.
  • Have touchless sanitizer at the restaurant's entrance.  

They then said that the following should be mandated for restaurants: 

  • Hand sanitizer at restaurant entrances must be in plain visible sight. There also must be hand sanitizer at every table.
  • Seated tables must be six-feet apart.
  • All employees must wear facemasks and have their temperature checked prior to their shift. Those with flu-like symptoms are advised to stay home. In addition, all staff behind counters must wear gloves except for bartenders, who must sanitize hands after making each drink order.
  • Doors must be wiped regularly.

In addition, the Orange County Economic Task Force mandated that staff who are 65 years of age or older would be encouraged to stay home.

MORE NEWS: Over 800 new coronavirus cases announced as phase one of Florida's reopening begins, health officials report

Florida has had more almost 37,000 cases of coronavirus as of Monday, resulting in 1,399 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health. There has been a downward trend in new cases since early April.

If you display coronavirus symptoms, you should contact a local health organization and make them aware of your condition prior to arrival while also following specific instructions or guidelines they may have. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 and let them know if you have been infected or believe that you may be.

If you are infected, a medical professional or another authority will likely advise that you remain isolated while sick. This includes staying at home and not going into public places or large events.

Please visit the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage for information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida. For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-(866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours a day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.


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