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DeSantis Hints At Eased Restrictions For Gyms, Extends Suspension Of Evictions

Ron DeSantis
Lynne Sladky/AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, arrives for a news conference during the new coronavirus pandemic, Thursday, May 14, 2020, in Doral, Fla. DeSantis has signed an executive order for the reopening of Miami-Dade and Broward counties on May 18. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Governor Ron DeSantis is teasing an announcement coming Friday on gyms and workout facilities, though he didn’t give any details during his afternoon press conference.

“We’re going to have an announcement tomorrow that’s going to encompass the gyms,” DeSantis told media while speaking in South Florida Thursday.

The Governor seemed to indicate that will mean relaxed restrictions for gyms, which he ordered closed on March 20.

“You know, you had certain guidelines that CDC put out, and they think that gyms were like a problem – so that’s why they were closed,” DeSantis said. “I think if they do sanitation – first of all, this is a virus that if you’re in good shape, you’re probably going to be okay. So why would we want to dissuade people from going to be in shape?”

DeSantis also signed an executive order Thursday extending the suspension of evictions and foreclosures in the state until June 2.

Speaking in Doral and joined by Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez and local leadership, DeSantis announced Miami-Dade and Broward counties will join the rest of the state in "Phase 1" of reopening, adding "some of our best economic engines" are in South Florida.

Meanwhile, as the state continues to chip away at a backlog of unemployment claims, the Governor gave a brief update on the Department of Economic Opportunity’s unemployment system this afternoon.

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and executive orders halted much of the state economy, DeSantis says $1.8 billion has been paid to claimants.

“Since Monday morning, there have been 53,575 new unique claimants that have been processed and paid, and there have been 356,776 payments made just this week alone,” DeSantis said.

When the Governor ordered additional servers and employees to fortify the overburdened unemployment system in early April, he said the agency had a goal of processing 80,000 claims per week.

As of Thursday, DEO says it has paid about 712,000 claimants. The agency reports nearly 1.3 million unique users have filed claims.

When it comes to transitioning to the next phase of Florida’s reopening, which DeSantis has hinted could include increasing restaurant seating capacity and opening bars, the Governor hasn’t given a timeline yet.

He told reporters today “we’ll obviously look at” the transition to a second phase, “but I think the main thing is, keep going in a good direction.

Pressed about why the Florida Chamber of Commerce predicted a transition to Phase 2 on May 18, DeSantis said he hasn’t “had any discussions about Phase 2.”