Phase 1 Reopening

Governor Desantis Shares Phase One Updates For Reopening Bars and Restaurants

Yesterday at 5:00, Floridians gathered around their TVs, phones, and computers, anxious for news from Governor Desantis about the first steps in opening up the state. Restaurant owners across the state got the news they were hoping for, and are gearing up to welcome guests back and get the drinks flowing again. 

But don’t start preparing for an elaborate grand re-opening. Restaurants will have to follow strict guidelines regarding occupancy during phase one of reopening the state.

DeSantis started his address by recognizing Florida’s most vulnerable population, small businesses, and families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. He discussed how young students have missed their friends, social events, and sporting events, and how high school seniors are having to get creative in how they experience their proms and graduations. He dove into the very real struggle that many families are facing daily: trying to homeschool kids, keep food on the table, apply for unemployment, and adjust to a new schedule and routine that we weren't expecting and we didn’t ask for.

And then, 31 minutes into his speech, DeSantis got right to it. He explained that the process to reopen the state starts with the “small, deliberate, methodical steps  based on consultation with the greatest physicians.” He explained that every phase of reopening will be safe, smart, and step by step. The reopening will happen on May 4th and will exclude Broward. Miami Dade, and Palm Beach counties. 

Restaurants will be allowed to reopen on May 4th The outdoor seating must adhere to appropriate social distancing measures and limit their indoor occupancy to 25% of the buildings occupancy load at one time. This is a small step, and some neighborhood restaurants will have to get creative in their seating arrangements. But it is a safe and deliberate step that gets restaurants moving again, allows members of the community to start connecting again, gets money moving through the economy, and gives servers and other restaurant employees a chance to start making money again. 

At the time of his address, Governor Desantis explained that he and his task force discussed lifting regulations on bars, but decided to wait a little longer on that. Maybe it's because of the close proximity bar patrons have with each other when sitting together at a bar, Governor Desantis didn’t explain his reasoning behind why bars have to wait a little longer to reopen. Although it's not ideal, bar owners will have to wait for just a little longer to start slinging drinks and hosting happy hours again. 

Throughout his address, Desantis mentioned that Florida is to continue to follow social distancing guidelines laid out by the CDC, including limiting social groups to 10 or fewer, recommending face masks, keeping six feet away from people, and being diligent about handwashing. 

Desantis hopes phase one of reopening Florida lasts weeks, not months. He plans to look at the data day by day, hour by hour, and make informed decisions that will keep our population healthy while also getting our economy back up and running.

So there you have it: May 4th, restaurants in the Sunshine State (except a few in South Florida along with a few select counties) can welcome back their guests (25% at a time) and take the first step to get back in business. 

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