Gyms to Reopen, Restaurant Seating to Expand

Gyms to Reopen, Restaurant Seating to Expand

By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Gyms and fitness centers can start to reopen Monday and restaurants can seat more customers, as Gov. Ron DeSantis continued Friday to take “small steps” with his economic recovery plans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

DeSantis said restaurants on Monday can expand their indoor seating to accommodate 50 percent occupancy, after being limited to 25 percent occupancy since May 4. Retail stores also will be able to go to 50 percent occupancy — moves Democrats cautioned need to come with more available testing for the virus.

Gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to get back to business after being shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. DeSantis urged people to take precautions as they work out.

“If you’re inside, make sure you’re doing the social distance and then sanitize the machines and surfaces after use,” DeSantis said during a news conference at Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital Clinic in Jacksonville. “I mean, that should be happening anyways. I mean, if you’re sweating on the dip bar, clean the dip bar when you’re done doing dips.”

Also as part of DeSantis’ announcement Friday, local governments can reopen libraries and museums with limited capacity, and they can work with amusement-park operators and short-term rental owners to submit reopening plans to the state.

The closure of theme parks in mid-March has been a major hit to Florida’s economy and tax revenues.

“They should identify the date certain that they believe that they could resume safe operations,” DeSantis said. “They have to provide how they’re going to do it, how they’re going to accommodate the guests, how they’re going to protect the staff, and then they need to have an endorsement from the relevant official in their locality.”

Movie theaters and bars, meanwhile, will remain closed.

DeSantis said he’s working on plans to open summer youth programs and schools, saying the virus tends to attack people who have underlying health conditions or who aren’t in good physical condition. He said Wednesday that plans were being devised for youth sports programs.

“I would say the experience in Florida has been very, very low risk for minors, which I think is a really, really good thing,” DeSantis said. “And I’ve said many times, I would have no problem with my kids playing with other kids or doing that, because I just view them as a low-risk environment. I think there’s a whole bunch of other risks that are more significant that parents happily accept every single day.”

Friday’s announcement was an additional part of a first phase of economic reopening that began May 4. That phase expanded at the start of this week to include allowing barber shops and salons to reopen and to include Palm Beach County, which had been initially left out.

On Thursday, DeSantis included Miami-Dade and Broward counties in the reopening efforts. Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward have the largest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state.

While many Florida businesses started to reduce services and close their doors in mid-March, the state has been on a semi-lockdown since DeSantis issued stay-at-home orders for people and “non-essential” businesses on April 1.

Democratic lawmakers warned Friday that plunging into more reopening without adequate COVID-19 testing being available would use Floridians as economic “guinea pigs.”

“I think we’re sort of shooting in the dark here,” said Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, while at the Old Capitol on Friday. “Because without testing, without much more significant testing of more Floridians, it’s going to be hard for us to make a determination that we’re doing this safely and effectively.”

DeSantis said the state will continue to monitor and prepare for any outbreaks or resurgences of the virus. But while research on a vaccine continues, he said, “everyone should recognize that you will never get to a point where you can just say it’s gone.”

As of Thursday, the Florida Department of Health reported the state had 43,210 cases of the coronavirus and 1,875 deaths, including 808 new cases and 48 deaths added since Wednesday.

Democratic legislators argued Friday they’re ready to go back to work in a special session to address problems in the unemployment system and the economic impacts of the virus on the state’s budget, as they’re seeing reports that the budget shortfall could reach as much as $10 billion.

But they contend DeSantis and his business allies are rushing the phased reopening.

“Clearly, we do need to begin to look at opening,” Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said. “But we don’t need to do it too soon, because we’re just got to make it more difficult. This experiment that the governor is harping upon, this experiment is going to utilize the people of Florida as the subject like guinea pigs.”

Sen. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, expressed concerns about workers at bars, Central Florida theme parks and other high-volume businesses if they are reopened.

“Imagine the hundreds and thousands of people going there. How are you going to control them? How are you going to safeguard your employees?” Torres said.

5 Responses to "Gyms to Reopen, Restaurant Seating to Expand"

  1. The China-owned Dem/Coms and media are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to keep America, Her Citizens, and Her Economy from recovering from the China Virus and the Media PACs manufactured hysteria.

    The pain, death, and destruction being experienced by America, Americans, and our economy as a result of China’s egregious malfeasance… has now officially transitioned into a full-blown Democrat Party Campaign strategy. The more America and Americans suffer, the happier they are… and they don’t even hide it anymore.

    I believe we may be witnessing the most extraordinary, malicious, and nefarious election meddling scheme of our lifetime. The Democrats hatred for America and Americans, and their lust for the destruction of our Great Republic, knows no boundaries and carries no empathy for the innocent… particularly children and the elderly. Be smart, watch your six, protect yourselves and your families, and may God bless us all.

    1. Kudos to a fine post Edward.
      All countries that hate America China Russia those sissified European countries desperately want Trump to loose. Everyone inside The USA that hates The USA wants Trump to loose and they have the DNC Propaganda office AKA the media running game for them.
      Its gonna be fun once again to watch them all cry just like those whiney diaper babies cried rivers of Hillary tears back in 2016.

  2. Don’t forget, state employees returning to work where there is no hot water to wash their hands with. I guess paying a little more on the electric bill isn’t worth it.

  3. Schools should open in the fall. Our kids need to be with friends. Also, summer camps at schools and private centers should open in June. Both parents and kids need this badly.

  4. Democrats caution that opening too soon will bring the economey roaring back thus dashing their last lame @ss attempt to blaim Trump for the virus and bringing forth not only the 2nd term of Trump but also making the house Republican majority as our great nation purges all but a few Democrats from elected office.
    But wait theres more. The inevitable 3rd and 4th term of Trump will also become a sure thing as the nation will surely elect Don Jr. In 2024 & 2028.
    MAGA X 3 more times!!!!

    Yeppers thats what we are looking at if we open too quickly.

    And dont forget Democrats are the ones that hate babies (abortion) and Democrats are the ones that hate Grandma (BHO:”Well uhhh no we uhhh would not spend money uhhh for your Grandmas uhhhh pacemaker uhhh we would send her home with some uhhhh pills”).

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