Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) lifted key coronavirus-related restrictions across Florida on Friday and promised the state is “not closing anything going forward.”
DeSantis pushed the Sunshine State into Phase 3 of the reopening process, allowing restaurants and bars to operate at full capacity at the state level. DeSantis’s order will allow the businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity, regardless of local restrictions. If local governments want to restrict capacity, they must first “justify” it to the state.
“I think that this will be very, very important to the industry,” DeSantis said at a press conference in St. Petersburg. “The order that I’m signing today will guarantee restaurants can operate and will not allow closures. They can operate at a minimum of 50 percent, regardless of local rule.”
“If a local restricts between 50 and 100 [percent], they gotta provide the justification and they’ve got to identify what the costs of doing that are,” he explained.
DeSantis is also suspending fines for breaking local protocols, such as not wearing a mask.
“Just as an act of executive grace, all outstanding fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals are suspended,” DeSantis announced. “I think we need to get away from trying to penalize people for not social distancing and work with people constructively.”
“We’re also saying everybody has an opportunity and a right to work. Every business has the right to operate. Some of the locals may be able to — they can do reasonable regulations, but they can’t just say no. You can’t say no after six months and just have people twisting in the wind,” DeSantis added, calling it another “important principle.”
Private businesses, however, can still impose restrictions on themselves, if they so choose.
“There may be some local restrictions in some parts of southern Florida about doing some of the, like a banquet hall or something. Again, what the order’s gonna say, they have a right to operate,” the governor explained.
“You can insist on certain regulations and obviously I think you’re probably going to see a different approach in southern Florida than you will in the Panhandle on some of that and I think that that’s fine,” he continued.
DeSantis added that the move “doesn’t mean the virus disappears” and cautioned that it is “something we are going to have to deal with.”
“But doing that from a fetal position, where society flounders, people are out of work, kids aren’t in school, that is not going to work,” he added.
Additionally, the Trump ally referenced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) estimated rate of survival for the Chinese coronavirus, which stands at 99.997 percent for those ages 0-19, 99.98 percent for those 20-49, 99.5 percent for the 50-69 crowd, and 94.6 for those 70 and up.
The emphasis, he added, needs to remain on protecting the most vulnerable population, which he identified as the elderly.
Florida reported 2,847 new cases of the virus on Friday, bringing the cumulative total to 687,656 resident cases and 13,915 resident fatalities. The seven-day positivity rate stands at 4.7 percent.