Governor moves Florida to Phase 3 of reopening plan

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TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that Florida will immediately move into Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan.

The change means restaurants are allowed to operate a full capacity.

The governor said the State of Florida has already reopened theme parks and beaches. “We’ve put a lot of people back to work,” he said.

Under an order that went into effect on Friday, restaurants are allowed to open with no restrictions from the state. If local governments restrict capacity in restaurants, they must allow a minimum of 50% capacity for indoor seating. In addition, if a city or county government limits seating in restaurants in their jurisdiction, they must also provide justification.

Local governments can keep bars at 50% capacity if they so choose.

‘This is a very difficult industry to succeed in,” he said.

He said restaurants have worked very hard to provide safe environments for their customers and staff.

“We’re also saying in the state of Florida, everybody has an opportunity and a right to work,” he said. Local governments can make reasonable regulations, “but you can’t just say ‘no’ after six months and have people twisting in the wind,” he added.

“We use our resources best when we focus them at those most vulnerable to COVID-19,” he said.

The highest risk of death from COVID-19 continues to be for those over the age of 70, he said. “In Florida, our focus will be on those who are most at risk,” he said.

He encouraged Floridians to know your risk and govern yourself accordingly.

He said hospitalizations for COVID-19 peaked more than two months ago.

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