Gov. DeSantis moves FL to Phase 3 of the COVID-19 Re-Opening Plan

Gov. DeSantis moves FL to Phase 3 of the COVID-19 Re-Opening Plan

September 25, 2020

Governor Ron DeSantis announces that restaurants and bars can operate at full capacity — regardless of local government rules — as Florida moves onto Phase 3 of its COVID-19 reopening plan effective Friday September 25, 2020.

Phase 3 in Florida will start immediately, Gov. Ron DeSantis said from The Birchwood, a St. Pete hotel which includes a restaurant and popular rooftop bar. The move lifts all restrictions on restaurant, bar, and retail store capacity; restaurants can operate at a minumum of 50% capacity, regardless of local rules.

“Every business has a right to operate… you can’t just say ‘no’ after six months and have people twisting in the wind,” he said. The order also bars cities and counties from ordering restaurants to close, unless they can justify a closure for economic or health reasons. “They have to provide justification, and they have to identify what the costs of doing that are,” DeSantis continued.

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The governor hinted at ending the capacity restriction on Thursday, saying while he understands there is a chance of a spread of the coronavirus, “we can’t have these businesses dying. I don’t think that the closure of restaurants has proven to be effective,” DeSantis said Thursday. “I get how you could potentially have spread there. … But we can’t have these businesses dying. So, they’re not going to be able to be closed by locals anymore. And they will be able to operate at the capacity that they’re comfortable with.” He said Phase 3 doesn’t change much outside the hospitality industry, since most other businesses have reopened across the state.

According to the original plan created by the governor’s task force on reopening, Phase 3 “will begin after the successful conclusion of Phase 2, which includes a downward trajectory of the syndromic and epidemiology criteria while maintaining adequate health care capacity. This will occur when there is no evidence of a rebound or resurgence of COVID-19 cases and satisfies the benchmarks outlined in this Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. plan.”

FULL PHASE THREE TEXT FROM ORIGINAL PLAN:

INDIVIDUALS:

Vulnerable Populations

Individuals older than 65 years of age and individuals with a serious underlying medical condition (such as chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immune-compromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease) can resume public interactions, but should practice social distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed. Vulnerable populations should affrmatively inform their employer that they are a member of the vulnerable population so that their employer can plan accordingly.

Social Gatherings

Non-vulnerable populations should consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments

Travel

Non-essential travel may continue.

EMPLOYERS

Telework

Employees should resume unrestricted staffing of worksites and implement the final phasing in of employees returning to work. For vulnerable populations, teleworking can be considered.

Employee Screening

Employers should take prudent and practical measures to ensure employees do not enter the premises if they believe they are infected with COVID-19 or show symptoms of influenza-like illness.

Travel

Employees should resume non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.

Local Government Meetings

These meetings should return to in-person quorum and public participation for local government bodies.

OTHER

Bars, Pubs and Nightclubs

Bars, pubs, and nightclubs that derive more than 50 percent of sales from alcohol should operate at full capacity with limited social distancing protocols. Businesses should maintain adequate sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation. Menus, if laminated, should be cleaned after each usage. Paper menus should be designed for single use and then disposed of immediately after use.

Restaurants

Restaurants and food service establishments may operate at full capacity with limited social distancing protocols. Businesses should maintain adequate sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation. Menus, if laminated, should continue to be cleaned after each usage. Paper menus shall be designed for single use and then disposed of immediately after use.

Gyms and Fitness Centers

Gyms and fitness centers should open to full capacity but should maintain adequate
sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation.

Recreation

  • State Parks: State parks should be fully opened, including overnight accommodations.
  • Public Beaches: Beaches should remain fully opened.
  • Large Venues: (i.e. movie theaters, concert halls, auditoriums, bowling alleys, arcades, playhouses, casinos) These venues should re-open fully with limited social distancing protocols.

Large Sporting Events and Theme Parks

  • Large spectator sporting events should consider reducing capacity with limited social distancing protocols.
  • Theme parks may return to normal operations with limited social distancing protocols.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation Rentals should resume normal operating procedures but should continue to thoroughly clean and disinfect the property between rentals.

Personal Services Businesses

Personal Services Businesses, such as cosmetology salons, barber shops and nail salons, should operate under full capacity but should consider the following mitigation measures:

  • Continue to maintain adequate sanitation practices for employees and patrons.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect working stations and equipment between interactions with customers to the greatest frequency feasible.
  • Remove all unnecessary, frequent-touch items such as magazines, newspapers, service menus, any other unnecessary paper products and décor from customer service areas.

Retail Businesses

Operators of retail businesses should operate at full capacity but should continue to maintain adequate sanitation practices for employees and patrons.