Florida reopens: phase one of governor’s COVID-19 recovery plan in effect

Florida reopens: phase one of governor’s COVID-19 recovery plan in effect

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020After weeks of shelter-in-place measures and business closures, the Sunshine State will begin the reopening process, as phase one of Gov. Ron Desantis’ recovery plan goes into effect. On Monday morning, as the governor’s stay-at-home order officially ended, the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery plan began throughout the state. The plan allows certain businesses to reopen under specific restrictions and social distancing guidelines. The reopening plans do not yet apply to South Florida however, mainly Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, where most of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases are located. Shelter-in-place measures and business closures remain in place in those three counties. 

Under phase one of the recovery efforts, restaurants may offer outdoor seating with six feet between tables and indoor seating at 25% capacity. Retailers may also operate at 25% of indoor capacity. Schools will remain with remote learning and all visits to senior living facilities are prohibited. Businesses such as bars, gyms and personal care services will remain closed as well, and it is unclear as to when they may open. 

Additionally, hospital systems can now resume elective surgeries, a major source of revenue for those facilities. Medical professionals throughout the state touted the recovery plan’s data-driven approach while prioritizing the health and wellness of Floridians. “Now, it’s time to reopen,” Tampa General Hospital President and CEO John Couris said in a press release.  “[Gov. Desantis] is taking a measured approach to reopening our state and getting people back to work while considering the health and wellness of those who are most vulnerable,” Couris said in a press release. In Orlando, Dr. Sunil Desai, president of Orlando Health Medical Group, echoed that sentiment. “Orlando Health fully supports Gov. DeSantis’ plan for incrementally reopening Florida,” Desai said in a press release. “Since early April, we have experienced a consistent downward trend in the number of cases of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization. Orlando Health has always remained committed to caring for the Central Florida community in a safe and compassionate way.”

For Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, three of the state’s most populous counties, a phased reopening of the economy may still be a few weeks away. For these counties, travel and tourism dollars, the service economy and international investment make up a substantial part of the local economy, all of which were disrupted by travel bans, shelter-in- place measures and shuttered business activity. However, though South Florida has been one of the hardest-hit areas by the COID-19 pandemic, the three county mayors believe their respective counties will be ready for a safe, efficient and phased reopening of their local economies.

“The past few months have been challenging, but Floridians have answered the call as they always do,” Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner said in a press release. “Thanks to their efforts to help flatten the curve of COVID-19, we are well-positioned for the next steps to slowly reopen the state.” Broward County, in similar fashion, was projecting a severe impact from the pandemic, yet through swift action and close monitoring of cases, the county is preparing for the reopening of its economy. “While Broward County was projected to become one of the worst affected areas by this pandemic, we have been able to avoid this by using a data-driven and methodical approach to combating COVID-19,” Broward County Mayor Dale Holness said in a press release. “The leadership and residents of Broward County are united in this effort. Gov. DeSantis has been a strong partner in this fight and I look forward to continuing to work with him and leaders across the county and state as we strive to get things back to normal and emerge stronger than before.” Much like Palm Beach and Broward counties, Miami-Dade County also has felt the economic impact of more than six weeks of shelter-in-place measures, but county leaders continue to consult with local leaders and medical professionals and believe the county is ready for a phased reopening of its economy. “There’s no denying the negative economic impacts that COVID-19 has had on our county and our entire state,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. “However, thanks to the hard work of so many Floridians, we have made great progress in flattening the curve, and we continue to consult with health and medical experts to protect our residents. We are ready to begin reopening through a safe and thorough approach.”

To learn more about the  Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery, visit: