Restaurants and retailers in Palm Beach County will be able to double the number of customers they can serve and fitness buffs can return the the gyms on Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Friday.
Claiming “the American people never signed up to perpetually shelter in place,” DeSantis announced that he was confident measures he’s enacted would stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus so restrictions could be further relaxed statewide.
Instead of limiting occupancy to 25 percent, restaurants and stores can be at 50 percent capacity under the new rules DeSantis announced in Jacksonville. Gyms, which have been closed since the pandemic gripped the state in mid-March, can also be at 50 percent capacity.
Movie theaters and bars will remain closed in all 67 counties, he said. With evidence showing that the virus thrives indoors, he said he wasn’t prepared to “pull the trigger” and allow theaters to reopen.
Likewise, theme parks will remain closed, he said. Operators must submit plans to the state, outlining steps they will take to protect their staff and the public, and set proposed reopening dates, DeSantis said. He said he has no idea when the parks will be allowed to reopen.
He encouraged professional sports teams to move their operations to Florida. But, he said, for the foreseeable future they will be playing sans fans.
The numbers of coronavirus cases in Florida, usually updated by the Florida Department of Health daily at 11 a.m., had not been updated as of 2 p.m. Friday.
On Monday, restaurants and retailers in the county were allowed to join their counterparts in 64 counties and reopen but limit occupancy to 25 percent. The other counties were allowed to partially reopen on May 4.
The stage for the expansion was set on Thursday when DeSantis approved plans in Miami-Dade and Broward counties that will allow restaurants and retailers to reopen Monday — for the first time since mid-March — at 50 percent occupancy.
In explaining why he approved Broward and Miami-Dade counties’ reopening plans, DeSantis pointed out that his task force recommended the 50 percent level for indoor seating at restaurants as part of Phase 1. But, he said, he trimmed it to 25 percent.
The task force also said the state should meet certain thresholds before moving to Phase 2. By Friday, it said, an average of 30,000 people statewide should be tested for the coronavirus each day — double current levels.