ORLANDO, Fla. – As of Friday, most of Florida has taken the next step of reopening the economy that was ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
All the of the state -- with the exception of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties -- can now enter phase two of the governor’s reopening plan and with that comes the easing of even more restrictions.
Florida was in phase one for one month, from May 4 until Thursday, but it’s unknown at this point how long Florida will stay in phase two before it’s time to move to phase three, which many are referring to as the new normal.
The opening of bars, movie theaters and personal services such as tanning salons and tattoo parlors mark the biggest difference between the current phase and the prior. Nightclubs, however, must remain closed.
Retailers can also now move to full capacity and restaurants can begin sitting patrons at the bar area.
Before, Floridians were asked to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 but now that number bumps up to 50.
The governor’s executive order doesn’t address altering capacity at restaurants or hair salons but his plan does allow for gyms and fitness centers to move to full capacity, up from 50%.
In downtown Orlando Friday, bar owners said they were excited to start accepting guests again and get their employees back to work.
Patrons at these establishments will likely notice new safety measures including increased sanitation, Plexiglas barriers and the use of personal protective equipment.
The reopening process could be even more complicated with the City Beautiful’s core under an 8 p.m. curfew due to repeated protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody after an officer pinned his knee to his neck.
Because of that curfew, Casey’s on Central opened just before noon Friday.
“We are opening at 11:59 a.m. You know you can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning. We are excited to do some day drinking obviously because our curfew we have to shut down earlier than normal so we decided to open up earlier than normal to do some day drinking this weekend,” owner Jeff Ekas said.
Protests, however, haven’t stopped Universal Orlando from opening. Friday was the first day the park opened to the general public since mid-March and masked guests who passed temperature checks flocked to attractions.
Though there are indications that the economy is beginning to recover, the pandemic’s grip on the nation is far from over.
On Friday morning, Florida reported 1,305 new cases of COVID-19 since approximately the same time the day before, as well as 53 new deaths.