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DeSantis details ‘phase 1’ for reopening state; restaurants can open with outdoor seating

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday unveiled his “Safe. Smart. Step-By-Step” plan for reopening the state of Florida.

Starting May 4, restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to reopen, but only at 25 percent capacity – and they will have to maintain social distancing. Restaurants will also be allowed to offer outdoor seating, but with six feet of space between tables.

Phase one of the plan will also allow hospitals and surgical centers to restart non-essential, elective procedures throughout the state.

However, the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach are excluded from phase one due to the number of cases they continue to deal with.

PDF DOWNLOAD: Gov. DeSantis’ executive order outlining phase one

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The plan also includes ramping up testing through the state, with multiple drive-through testing locations be announced, including one at CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers.

There will also be mobile testing units that will travel to high-risk areas like nursing homes and hospitals.

Results from those tests will be given in less than an hour.

Among businesses that will not be allowed to reopen are movie theaters, bars, nightclubs, gyms, and personal services such as hair salons, because social distancing can be difficult at those places.

Visits to senior living facilities will remain prohibited, and schools will continue distance learning.

DeSantis said citizens should still maintain social distance wherever they go, avoid groups of 10 or more, and wear masks when they cannot social distance.

The governor took to Twitter earlier Wednesday to thank physicians and medical personnel for their guidance with his plan.

He also said Florida has done better than anyone predicted, mentioning that data and science have helped us flatten the curve in a safe way.

DeSantis’ announcement comes a day after he met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House, where the governor said, “I’ve worked with the White House on going to phase one. I’m going to make an announcement tomorrow but I think for Florida, going from where we are now to phase one is not a very big leap.”

It was just about a month ago that DeSantis ordered the closure of non-essential businesses and directed employees to work from home wherever possible.

DeSantis did say the health of Florida’s elderly will be a top priority when it comes to reopening the state.

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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