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Gov. Ron DeSantis

DeSantis ready to increase restaurant capacity beyond 50 percent ‘soon’

Gov. Ron DeSantis hosted a roundtable regarding the reopening of restaurants Thursday.

While he hinted at reopening bars and increasing restaurant capacity “soon” no official announcements were made.

During the roundtable at Connors Steak and Seafood at Gulf Coast Town Center in South Fort Myers , restauranteurs made one thing clear – they want to move beyond 50% capacity so they can seat more customers and hire staff back.

DeSantis agreed and says he doesn’t think opening restaurants is a driver for spreading the virus, and the safety measures are there to keep that from happening.

On the jobs front, many of you at home who are unemployed have been wondering if you’re going to see any more help from the federal government.

Lost Wages Assistance brought eligible people an extra three payments of $300 this week.

We asked him if the state plans on requesting more, and he said, “We think we’re going to be able to get the 4th week, which we would like to do, but we’re not sure we’re going to be able to get the 5th week.”

It’s still unclear why Florida might not be able to get more than four weeks.

As for reopening bars and fully opening restaurants back up, the governor just says “soon”.

Gov. DeSantis backs permanent ‘alcohol to go’

DeSantis said he wants to make permanent a change that has allowed restaurants to sell carryout alcoholic beverages during the coronavirus pandemic.

DeSantis included what he calls “alcohol to go” in a March executive order to help provide a source of revenue for restaurants, which have been forced to scale back their operations during the pandemic.

During a meeting Thursday in Fort Myers with restaurant operators, DeSantis said he will keep the policy so long as the order remains in place, but the Legislature would have to change state law to allow it permanently.

“I do think that it’s been successful, and I would encourage the Legislature to just make that permanent, because I think that you guys need all the help you can get, and I think it would make a lot of sense,” DeSantis told the restaurant operators. “So I’m for it being permanent. And I think that you’ll probably get a pretty good reception in the Legislature, just based on the experience and just based off everyone having to go through what you guys have gone through.”

Florida News Service contributed to the story

Watch the full roundtable meeting below or click here.

 

Reporter:Sara Girard
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