Florida Begins Reopening Next Week, but Not Theme Parks Yet

April 29, 2020, 5:05 PM · Florida's governor announced today that most of the state will begin the first phase of its reopening on Monday, though theme parks will not be included.

The reopening guidelines will apply to restaurants and retail, as well as allowing elective surgeries to resume, a step that California took last week. Governor Ron DeSantis's new phase one reopening order will allow retail to operate at 25 percent of their indoor capacity, with restaurants also allowed to offer indoor, dine-in seating at 25 percent of capacity. Restaurants also would be allowed to offer outdoor seating with six feet of spacing between tables.

There will be no change for bars, gyms and personal services such as hair dressers. Schools will remain in distance-learning only mode and visits to senior living facilities will continued to be prohibited.

The governor said that Florida's reopening plan would follow the White House's three-phase reopening plan, though Florida will adjust each phase. For example, DeSantis said that he declined to allow movie theaters to reopen in the first phase, due to what he said was a higher risk of transmission for people when they are indoors as opposed to outdoors.

The phase one reopening would not apply to Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in southeast Florida, which have seen the state's highest caseloads of Covid infections.

Theme parks would need to wait for future phases to begin reopening. Florida will look health benchmarks - including hospital bed capacity and Covid-19 testing positive rates - to decide when to move onto those steps, though the governor said that he anticipates the state doing so in "weeks, not months."

He provided no details on what exactly would be included in Florida's phase two or three, which might provide more guidance as when Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and other Florida theme parks might legally be cleared to reopen to the public.

Replies (6)

April 29, 2020 at 6:19 PM

Too soon... too soon.

April 29, 2020 at 7:16 PM

I thought the seemingly endless press conference was cringeworthy, but Gov. DeSantis didn't really do much radical here. Opening malls and nonessential retail plus dine-in restaurants at 25 percent capacity? I really wonder how many restaurants will bother staffing up for that. How much retail traffic will be coming out with so many people still furloughed or laid off?

I don't know the answers to that, but I do know that what the governor announced today wasn't as expansive as I feared he would announce.

April 29, 2020 at 7:29 PM

I doubt many restaurants will open, but retail definitely will. Have you been to Home Depot or the Grocery store? Most retail stores don't see nearly as much traffic, especially high end and furniture stores.
Now if they opened bars, the young would flock and they would be packed just like the beaches.

April 29, 2020 at 10:07 PM

The 25 percent line has been pushed for a while in other states. And agree retail not enough traffic to be total concern. But as MrTorrance points out, if my local pubs were to open, they'd be packed fast.

April 29, 2020 at 11:25 PM


May 1, 2020 at 1:50 PM

Many restaurants have remained open in Florida doing takeout. The beaches are not crowded regardless of what you see on the news. The Governor has left the decision in most cases up to local government. I live in a county with 86,000 residents with 58 total cases no deaths, handful of hospitalizations with almost 30 cases resolved. And the week before the shelter in place order we had the Concours de Elegance on our small island with people coming from all over the world. Time to open or there will be no economy to open to. Every area is different. Georgia opened everything a week ago. This will give us good glimpse into what's in store.

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