ORLANDO, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted more restrictions Friday under what he calls his “full phase one” reopening plan for Florida amid the coronavirus, which now includes increased capacity for restaurants and retail businesses.
Under this new phase, which begins Monday, 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, he said.
“A lot of that is based off the spacing of the [restaurant] tables or if you have some type of partitian," said DeSantis.
News 6 received mixed reaction from people at Winter Park Village. Some people said they will stay home while others said they feel comfortable with the expanded capacity at local restaurants.
“I’ll be more cautious to see what my surroundings are like. Before, we would just walk in a restaurant, but now that’s going to be different," said Nhan Lee.
“As long as the food’s great and the drinks are cold I’ll be here," said Mike Gagnon.
Michael Ligouri, one of the owners here at Pizzeria Valdiano, said they will continue to sanitize tables and wear masks while they serve more customers inside their restaurant.
“Finally, I’m happy because we’ve been suffering for a few months," said Ligouri.
He said the restrictions have affected his business with sales down 60% at times. He said the restaurant depends on the foot traffic of moviegoers at the theater next door. The governor said he was not yet ready to open up theaters. Ligouri said he’s just lucky his businesses is staying afloat.
“Every small business out there is suffering pretty bad. Unfortunately, there are many that won’t be able to reopen and that’s sad," said Ligouri.
DeSantis also gave gyms and fitness centers the green light to reopen beginning Monday.
As more businesses are able to open while observing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, more furloughed employees can return to work. This comes as Florida’s unemployment system continues to experience problems, with the call center and payments to hundreds of thousands of unemployed Floridians.
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 and are “100% OK.”
The decision was made to further lift closures after reviewing the criteria outlined by the Re-Open Florida Task Force, according to the governor.
Those health metrics include a steady drop in emergency room visits due to influenza-like illnesses or COVID-19-like symptoms, documented new cases and the percent positive cases of the virus.
The Florida Department of Health releases statistics on those metrics weekly.