Florida gyms, studios given green light to reopen by Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida enters ‘full phase one’ with new restrictions lifted

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially gave gyms, fitness centers and studios the OK to reopen starting Monday as Florida enters the full phase one of his reopening plans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Fitness businesses have been shuttered since early April when Florida began a stay-at-home order.

Under the White House guidelines, gyms could have opened under the first stage but DeSantis said he held off on that step after speaking to state health officials.

DeSantis said all fitness centers need to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing and sanitation. He also asked those working out to follow basic gym courtesies, such as wiping up after themselves.

“If you are sweating on the bar, clean the dip bar,” the governor said.

DeSantis said gyms with outdoor or warehouse-style spaces such as CrossFit will be better prepared to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

“Don’t we want people to be able to exercise? Don’t we want people to stay in shape,” DeSantis said, adding that healthy people are more resistant to severe cases of the coronavirus.

Under phase one reopening guidelines, gyms and fitness centers remained closed but nail and hair salons weren’t originally included in phase one, and DeSantis later allowed those to reopen as well.

That restriction was lifted after Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings wrote a letter requesting the governor to consider allowing personal care businesses to reopen. After meeting with Orlando barber and hair shop owners DeSantis granted the request.

“They’ve got great setups,” DeSantis said of hair and barbershops. “You go into these shops and it’s like going into an operating room.”

The governor referred to these new changes Friday as the “full phase one."

Under the expanded phase one, DeSantis is allowing restaurants and retail businesses to increase their capacity from 25% to 50%. The same goes for libraries and museums if approved by local governments.

The governor spoke about working with theme parks, including Disney World and Universal Orlando, on their reopening plans.

“Parks can submit reopening plans to the state," DeSantis said, adding the parks will also need an endorsement from local officials, such as the Orange County mayor.

Universal and Disney officials have not yet announced plans to reopen their theme parks in the U.S. Universal’s CityWalk shopping and entertainment venue opened Thursday and Disney Springs will open on May 20, in a limited capacity.

DeSantis said all professional sports are OK to begin training again.

“Once the season starts you can use our facilities,” he said.

Major League Soccer teams, including the Orlando City Lions, began training last week.

The only businesses not given the go-ahead to reopen in Florida that were included in the White House phase one reopening guidelines are movie theaters.

DeSantis said drive-thru theaters can continue to operate because they pose no risk for the virus spread and are “100% OK.”

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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