On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would lift all COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and bars. This comes on the same day Florida passed 14,000 COVID-19 deaths
Phase 2 of Florida’s reopening plan requires that bars and restaurants operate at 50% capacity. Phase 3 requires that they operate at 100% capacity. Cities and counties are prohibited from forcing restaurants to completely close unless the municipality can justify a closure.
“If a local [establishment] restricts between 50 and 100 [percent] they’ve got to provide the justification and they’ve got to identify what the costs of doing that are,” DeSantis told NBC Miami. “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. 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.”
Other public attractions such as theme parks, retail businesses, and sports stadiums will be able to operate at full capacity.
About the possibility of a surge in cases, DeSantis said that they are prepared if that happens. “We’re not closing anything moving forward. We have the tools in place.”
DeSantis also added that he would suspend all fines for social distancing violations. “Just as an act of executive grace, all outstanding fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals are suspended. I think we need to get away from trying to penalize people for not social distancing and work with people constructively.”