ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida has just begun its first baby steps in reopening businesses that spent weeks closed to stop the spread of COVID-19 and already some are wondering what it will look like when the state enters the next milestone.
Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t given any kind of timeline for when phase two will begin. The first phase, which involved opening restaurants and stores at limited capacity, began May 4.
He also stressed the importance of increased testing, monitoring the positivity rate and maintaining hospital bed availability before the state can move forward in further restarting the economy.
“Phase 2 will begin after the successful conclusion of Phase 1, which includes a downward trajectory of the syndromic and epidemiology criteria while maintaining adequate health care capacity. This will occur when there is no evidence of a rebound or resurgence of COVID-19 cases and satisfies the benchmarks outlined in this Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. plan,” documents from the governor’s office read.
Though we don’t know when phase two will happen, we do know what to expect when it does. Already, the state has laid out guidelines indicating how businesses will be able to operate.
Below are the highlights from the governor’s plan:
Those 65 and older as well as those with underlying conditions who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19 should remain at home as much as possible. When leaving the house, they should maintain six feet of distance between themselves and others.
The number of people allowed per social gathering will increase from the current 10 under phase one to 50 in phase two. Social distance should still be maintained, especially indoors or in other enclosed environments.
Non-essential travel can resume but employers are still asked to limit it.
Employers should encourage telework where it is practical but they can also start a phased approach of bringing employees back into the office. Those who do return should undergo health screenings and temperature checks, when practical.
These can resume in person with no more than 50 people as long as social distance can be maintained. Video conferencing is still encouraged where applicable.
Bars, pubs and nightclubs
These establishments can open and operate at 50% capacity as long as standing room is reduced and outdoor service areas are encouraged. Tables should be spaced six feet apart and bar seating should be both reduced and spread out. Tables or table groupings should include space for no more than 10 people. When possible, an employee should take drinks to tables so patrons don’t have to wait at the bar. Menus and other surfaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Capacity will be bumped from the current 25% to 75% with six feet of space separating parties. Groups should be limited to 10 people or fewer and indoor waiting areas should be limited. Reservations and call-ahead service will be encouraged over walk-ins and outdoor seating should remain a priority. Employees should undergo health screenings and masks should be suggested. Menus and other common surfaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Cafeteria-style dining arrangements should be avoided.
Currently closed, gyms and fitness centers can open with 75% capacity at the start of phase two. Patrons should be separated by six feet and strict cleaning and sanitation protocols should be implemented. Indoor group sessions and classes can resume with limited capacity.
They can reopen for full daytime use but overnight accommodations, pavilions and some other amenities will remain closed.
The shores will fully open with no further social distancing guidelines listed.
Movie theaters, concert halls, auditoriums, bowling alleys, casinos, arcades and playhouses can open with strict social distancing guidelines in place and 75% capacity. Groups should be limited to 10 people or fewer and there should be six feet of space between each party. Cleaning and disinfecting should be done regularly and owners should consider conducting health screenings for employees. Masks are also encouraged.
Large sporting events and theme parks
Sporting arenas should limit capacity to 50% and develop a social distancing protocol. Theme parks should also reduce capacity, although an exact percent wasn’t provided. Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently said that masks will likely be required for guests and employees when parks open in the U.S.
Personal services businesses
Nail salons, hair salons and barbershops were originally slated to open in phase two but DeSantis has since allowed them to open with 25% capacity. Come phase two, capacity can increase to 75%. Equipment should be regularly cleaned and disinfected, everyone should wear masks and certain items like magazines and newspapers should be removed from customer service areas.
Businesses can operate at no more than 75% capacity. Signage should be posted to direct the flow of traffic and promote social distancing. Surfaces and commonly touched items should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
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Author: Adrienne Cutway
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