ORLANDO, Fla. – The first phase of reopening Florida is nearing completion and come Friday, the Sunshine State will enter phase two of its coronavirus economic recovery plan.
The first phase of reopening, which involved opening restaurants and stores at limited capacity, began May 4. Now, bars, movie theaters and other entertainment venues will open their doors after months of being closed in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Today, as we take another step, we’re applying this to the 64 counties, and obviously going to work with the three southeast Florida counties, as we go forward,” DeSantis said. “This is going to be signed (Wednesday), and it will take effect this Friday.”
Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, which were the hardest hit, will remain in phase one for now.
Those 65 and older as well as those with underlying conditions who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19 should remain at home as much as possible. When leaving the house, they should maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and others. They should also take care to avoid large crowds.
The number of people allowed per social gathering will increase from the current 10 under phase one to 50 in phase two. Social distance should still be maintained, especially indoors or in other enclosed environments.
Nonessential travel can resume, but employers are still asked to limit it.
Employers should encourage telework where it is practical, but they can also start a phased approach of bringing employees back into the office. Those who do return should undergo health screenings and temperature checks, when practical.
These can resume in person with no more than 50 people as long as social distance can be maintained. Video conferencing is still encouraged where applicable.
Bars, pubs and nightclubs
Establishments can open and operate at 50% capacity as long as standing room is reduced and outdoor service areas are encouraged. Tables should be spaced 6 feet apart and bar seating should be both reduced and spread out. Tables or table groupings should include space for no more than 10 people. When possible, an employee should take drinks to tables so patrons don’t have to wait at the bar. Menus and other surfaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Capacity was supposed to be bumped from the current 50% to 75% with 6 feet of space separating parties, according to the report released in late April, but an executive order released in June shows capacity will remain at 50%. Groups should be limited to 10 people or fewer and indoor waiting areas should be limited. Restaurants can now begin sitting patrons at the bar area. Reservations and call-ahead service will be encouraged over walk-ins and outdoor seating should remain a priority. Employees should undergo health screenings and masks should be suggested. Menus and other common surfaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Cafeteria-style dining arrangements should be avoided.
Gyms and fitness centers
Gyms and fitness centers were supposed to remain closed during phase one but were recently given the go ahead to open ahead of schedule as long as they operate at 50% capacity. Plans for phase two allow full capacity for these establishments. Patrons should be separated by six feet and strict cleaning and sanitation protocols should be implemented. Indoor group sessions and classes can resume with limited capacity.
Schools and youth activities
Day cares, summer camps and similar events can reopen. Many have in Central Florida, but class sizes are limited and groups do not interact with each other the way they normally would.
Senior care facilities and hospitals
Visits to these establishments should still be prohibited. Anyone who interacts with patients should follow strict hygiene protocols. Additionally, people who work in long-term care facilities should regularly be tested for COVID-19.
They can reopen for full daytime use but overnight accommodations, pavilions and some other amenities will remain closed.
The shores will fully open with no further social distancing guidelines listed.
Movie theaters, concert halls, auditoriums, bowling alleys, casinos, arcades and playhouses can open with strict social distancing guidelines in place and 50% capacity. Groups should be limited to 10 people or fewer and there should be 6 feet of space between each party. Cleaning and disinfecting should be done regularly and owners should consider conducting health screenings for employees. Masks are also encouraged.
Large sporting events and theme parks
Sporting arenas should limit capacity to 50% and develop a social distancing protocol. Theme parks should also reduce capacity, although an exact percent wasn’t provided. In Central Florida, all the major parks are planning to open this summer.
Vacation rentals have been allowed on a county-by-county basis with the governor’s approval. Although plans vary slightly, most call for anyone who is traveling internationally or from an area considered a COVID-19 hot spot to rent for at least two days and allowing 72 hours between guests checking in so units can be thoroughly cleaned.
Personal services businesses
Nail salons, hair salons and barbershops were originally slated to open in phase two but DeSantis has since allowed them to open with 25% capacity. Come phase two, capacity can increase. Also new in phase two, tattoo parlors, tanning salons and all other personal services businesses can book clients once again. Equipment should be regularly cleaned and disinfected, everyone should wear masks and certain items like magazines and newspapers should be removed from customer service areas.
Businesses can operate at full capacity. Signage should be posted to direct the flow of traffic and promote social distancing. Surfaces and commonly touched items should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Pari-mutual facilities, which typically house events like slots, racing wagers and cardrooms, will also be able to reopen with strict health and safety guidelines under phase two. They will need to submit plans with the mayor’s approval to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation before they can reopen.