Gov. Ron DeSantis announced yesterday that he will begin opening most of Florida’s restaurants, retail and recreation. Palm Beach County, however, will remain under some broader restrictions for the time being. There should be further developments on Palm Beach and Broward counties as early as next week.
While South Florida is not in the mix to regain some economic freedoms, DeSantis said he didn’t think the region would trail for much longer given the downward trends in new cases and rates of those testing positive.
“If we’re making progress, we need to put people back to work,” He said. “I deliberately erred on the side of taking measured steps, maybe even baby steps to a brighter day.
“We need to focus on facts and not fear.”
The nation’s health authorities have said states’ plans to ease restrictions on business and recreation should hinge on a steady downward trend in new cases, the rate of positive tests, and a steady availability of ventilators and beds in intensive care units.
DeSantis argued Wednesday, the majority of Florida meets that demand.
“We have more beds available today than March 1,” DeSantis said. The state has been spared “an explosion of cases” and hospitalization rates are down, he said.
In this beginning phase, some things won’t change. Students across the state will continue to learn from a seat at home, not at school. Guests are still prohibited from visiting nursing homes.
Movie theaters, bars and gyms will remain closed, but restaurants can open, filling only 25 percent of their indoor seating and permitted outdoor seating if tables are adequately separated.
Retail shops can operate at 25 percent of indoor capacity and do curbside transactions.
Across Palm Beach County, authorities began lifting some locally imposed restraints Wednesday, allowing certain recreation spots from golf courses to marinas and parks to open under some social distancing guidelines.
DeSantis expects to beef up testing in the weeks to come with more walk-up opportunities and even a mobile testing lab that can determine who is sick in under an hour — a task that would be particularly handy in monitoring staff and patients in long-term health care facilities.
The state could see 30,000 to 40,000 tests a day administered beginning next week, he said.