ORLANDO, Fla. – Floridians waiting to go back to work or get a haircut will have to wait a little longer after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state would rollback some restrictions under the stay-at-home order put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus -- but not everything at once.
Under the governor’s plan revealed Wednesday, Florida will reopen non-essential businesses in a three-phased approach beginning Monday, however, restrictions in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties will remain unchanged.
Florida has been under a stay-at-home order for nearly four weeks.
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Here’s what you can do beginning Monday--unless you live in one of Florida’s hardest-hit counties:
- Elective surgeries can resume
- Restaurants may offer outdoor seating with six foot space between tables and indoor seating at 25% capacity
- Retail can operate at 25% of indoor capacity
DeSantis on March 20 issued an executive order directing hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental offices and other health care providers to cease performing elective services.
The executive order stemmed from a push to conserve medical supplies, including personal-protective equipment, as hospitals and health-care workers prepared for a surge in patients with COVID-19.
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The executive order was slated to last through May 8, but hospital and physician organizations sent letters to DeSantis seeking to scale back the restrictions on procedures.
Hospital officials have stressed they are ready to handle patients who have put off outpatient surgeries and procedures during the restrictions.
“As we ease some of these restrictions, the health system is overwhelmingly prepared with equipment, beds, staffing. So I am 100% confident that we can handle patients that we’ve put off and I’ll use the term loosely ‘elective’ surgeries,” physician Sunil Desai, a senior vice president of Orlando Health who has served on a working group that is part of DeSantis’ task force, said Sunday. “The one caveat I want to say, and this is a little pet peeve of mine about elective, it’s elective when you set up the time. That’s the only thing that makes it elective. To that patient or that family, it is not elective. It was something that was prepared for.”
Here’s what still will not open come Monday:
- Schools, students will continue virtual classes
- Theme parks
- Movie theaters
- Sports arenas and venues, to the public
- Personal services including barber shops, hair and nail salons
DeSantis did not address when Floridians could expect to see theme parks or major attractions reopen.
The governor said he could see fans attend major sporting events in Florida by June or July. Churches were never ordered to close under the governor’s executive order and will remain open.
As for when other businesses, including nail salons, barber shops will be able to welcome clients again the governor did not provide a timeline.
The governor said when phase two and phase three begin depend on how well the first stage goes.
“Each phase we’re thinking about weeks, not thinking about months,” DeSantis said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.