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Starting Monday, Florida's 'Full Phase 1' Expands Restaurant And Retail Capacity, Opens Gyms

Lon Sabella
Lynne Sladky/AP
Business owner Lon Sabella sprays fabric sanitizer in his shop Sabella Mikesell Couture on Worth Ave. as he prepares to open, Monday, May 11, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla. Palm Beach County was authorized by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to initiate Phase 1 reopening regulations Monday, which includes limited reopening of retail establishments. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

After Florida’s initial step toward reopening weeks ago saw a more cautious approach than was allowed by the White House, Governor Ron DeSantis is rolling out what he calls “full Phase 1” starting Monday.

“We did not exhaust everything that we could have done in Phase 1,” DeSantis said of his initial approach, speaking in Jacksonville Friday.

The Governor’s “full Phase 1” looks a little bit more like the White House’s first phase guidelines – further opening up capacity in restaurants and retail businesses in the state, for starters.

“We are now going, effective Monday, to operating up to 50 percent capacity. And a lot of that is based on the spacing of the tables, or, if you have some type of partition,” DeSantis said. “Because I’ve had some restaurateurs tell me ‘Hey, I’ve got Plexiglas – my booths, I can’t move them, but I’ve got Plexiglas.’ That’s fine, that’s effective. All we’re trying to do is create a low-risk environment.”

Retail businesses will also be permitted to go to 50 percent capacity. DeSantis says the “Reopen Florida” task force he convened to give recommendations initially suggested going immediately to 50 percent capacity, as other states like Texas did.

“I think that’s something a lot of people in the restaurant industry that a lot of the people in the restaurant industry have been hoping for. I think it can be done safely, a lot of other states already went to that right off the bat. My initial recommendation was to do 50 percent, from my task force. I wanted to ease into it, but I think they’ve really thought well about it,” the Governor said.

Another significant development in reopening, gyms and fitness centers will be permitted to begin operating again, at 50 percent capacity, on Monday.

“Make sure that you respect the social distancing capacity,” DeSantis advised gym owners and those going to get a workout. “I would say, for some of these places like Crossfit that do outdoor training, that’s great. The outdoor stuff, again, that’s a lower risk environment outdoors than if you’re inside a stuffy room in a gym.”

For those going to work out at an indoor gym, DeSantis advises:

“Sanitize machines and surfaces after use. I mean, that should be happening anyway. If you’re sweating on the dip bar, clean the dip bar when you’re done doing dips, I mean come on.”

Museums and libraries can also begin opening to the public at 50 percent capacity Monday.

“Local governments can make those calls in terms of the museums and libraries that they’re operating,” DeSantis said.

Though the Governor has said he wants to “get to yes” on visitation at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the Phase 1 guidelines from the state and Washington both prohibit visits. DeSantis says in this expanded first phase, testing for nursing home staff will be the focus.

“We want all staff to be tested, and that’s just very important. That’s going to be a multi-pronged approach. We do need long-term care facilities who have the ability to self-test to let us know,” DeSantis told reporters. “We can provide the lab capacity; we can provide the supplies.”

DeSantis also this week announced Florida’s most-affected counties of Miami-Dade and Broward will join the rest of the state in Phase one after the weekend.