The country’s third most populated state, Florida, has recently started easing quarantine restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Last May 4, the state officially entered the first phase of its reopening. While social distancing will still be widely and strictly imposed, there will be changes that will allow its citizens and economy to move forward.
Below, we’ve listed down some of the things you need to know about the Sunshine State’s phased plan to reopen.
Three counties will remain under lockdown
The southeast area of Florida has been the hardest-hit by the virus (with 59% of all cases coming from the counties), and shall remain under the same restriction orders that the state implemented for a month. The areas, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, have the highest population density as well as hospitalization and mortality rate. Governor Ron DeSantis believes that Florida should not take a one-size-fits-all approach to easing restrictions, and therefore have already started reopening areas deemed safe by experts.
Elderlies shall remain on quarantine
Nursing homes too, shall continue to ban visitors, except for very rare cases. According to healthcare officials, 26% of Florida’s confirmed Covid-19 cases are citizens aged 65 and above, and are therefore deemed part of the at-risk population. Out of this, 83% have expired.
Restaurant and retail stores are back
Social distancing shall still be heavily imposed, and restaurants are not allowed to use more than 25% of their indoor seating capacity. Bars and nightclubs will not be part of phase one reopening.
You can now go outside but with limited movement
Under phase one, people are allowed to jog outside and visit stores, but are still advised to follow social distancing guidelines. Similar to the stay-at-home order, you may also visit your doctor for check-ups.
Most indoor venues will remain closed
Florida reopening does not mean that all establishments will be allowed to resume operations. This is especially true for establishments that require close contact between people and where customers stay indoor for long periods of time like salons, cinemas, barbershops, spas, and gyms. Studies have shown that the coronavirus spreads faster and more easily in closed areas, thus, the decision of Governor DeSantis to keep them from reopening. The state has not yet released any specific date as to when they will be allowed to operate again.
Some beaches and parks are open
Among them are the beaches in Pinellas County and Clearwater. The decision follows the experts’ findings that the coronavirus transmits less in open spaces, although social distancing will still be strictly imposed and crowds will be prevented from gathering. In addition, only limited activities are allowed in these areas, like exercising. Fancy a swim? Go and confirm with local authorities first if this is allowed before making the trip.
Elective surgeries are allowed to resume
The government of the state prohibited elective surgeries when it imposed its lockdown regulations so that hospitals can focus on battling Covid-19. Under phase one of the reopening, Governor DeSantis has allowed pre-scheduled operations to resume so long as hospitals have enough personal protective equipment (PPEs) to manage both surgeries and Covid-19 cases.
Non-essential travel is still prohibited
Feeling cooped up? Well, you just need to hang in there for a little bit more. AirBNB and other vacation rentals are still not allowed to operate.
You still need to go self-isolate upon arrival in Florida
You are advised to stay indoors and avoid physical contact with others for 14 days.
Are masks and temperature checks required
The state does not require masks and temperature checks for customers and employees but some businesses do. If you encounter a business requiring you to wear a mask upon entry to their premises, please do so, as they are only watching out for your own safety.
It’s up to local government to open museums and libraries
These will be allowed to operate upon recommendation from the local government but will need to strictly maintain operation at 25% capacity. Plays and interactive shared exhibits will not be allowed.
Phase one rules shall remain in effect until further notice
Currently, the state has not announced when the second phase of the reopening will begin, nor did it state what the changes will be under that next stage.