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DeSantis announces Florida entering Phase 3 reopening

Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in Florida on Friday in a move to reopen the state’s economy despite the spread of the coronavirus.

DeSantis’ announcement would allow restaurants and hotels across the state to immediately reopen at full capacity, effective immediately — and would bar cities and counties from ordering restaurants to close, unless they can justify a closure for economic or health reasons.

He further explained that his Executive Order, coming out later today, will prohibit local municipalities from restricting the re-opening of businesses. They must be allowed to operate at least at 50% capacity, regardless of local rule.

“Florida’s hospitality industry has been decimated by COVID-19,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “This has been a crisis like we have never seen before.”

The Republican governor’s move is sure to stoke debate in a politically crucial state, where the pandemic has become intertwined with the upcoming presidential election. DeSantis is a major ally of President Donald Trump.

DeSantis took the action even as he acknowledged that the pandemic was far from over.

Florida has long been a COVID-19 hotspot, with nearly 700,000 people infected by the virus since the pandemic began in March. Nearly 14,000 Floridians have died.

Since the state’s number of cases peaked in July, the number of new infections have steadily declined.

LINK: Florida’s “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” recovery plan

The outbreak prompted the governor to close bars and nightclubs, and restricted restaurants to take-out dining for months. Amusement parks ground to a halt.

The closures battered the economy, leaving hundreds of thousands of Floridians unemployed.

DeSantis has slowly reopened the state for business since then, allowing restaurants and bars to reopen at half capacity, even as the pandemic continues to spread.

DOCUMENT: Executive Order 20-244

Florida added 2,847 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, pushing the statewide total since March 1 to 695,887. The state also announced 120 new virus deaths, pushing its total to 14,038. Hospitalizations declined by 34 to 2,137 people.

“We are saying in the state of Florida everybody has an opportunity and the right to work,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Every business has the right operate.”

Executive Order 20-244 does the following:

  1. Removes state-level restrictions on businesses, such as restaurants.
  2. Provides that no COVID-19 emergency ordinance may prevent an individual from working or operating a business, giving Floridians and business owners needed certainty and the ability to provide for themselves and their families.
  3. Provides that restaurants may not be limited by a COVID-19 emergency order by any local government to less than 50% of their indoor capacity. If a restaurant is limited to less than 100% of its indoor capacity, such COVID-19 emergency order must satisfy the following:
    1. Quantify the economic impact of each limitation or requirements on those restaurants; and
    2. Explain why each limitation or requirement is necessary for public health.
  4. Suspends all outstanding fines and penalties, and the collection of such moving forward, applied against individuals related to COVID-19.

Watch DeSantis’ announcement below or click here.

Author: Associated Pres
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