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Florida Has Announced Phase 3 Reopening. What Does That Mean?

Close up many metal dumbbells on rack in sport fitness center
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Black dumbbell set. Close up of many metal dumbbells on rack in sport fitness center.

Here's what Florida entering Phase 3 will mean for bars, restaurants, small businesses such as hair salons, and those who have been working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced Florida would be entering Phase 3 in reopening the state, meaning restaurants, bars, salons, and other businesses will be allowed to reopen under full capacity.

DeSantis said the new order will override any other restrictions on the local level.

DeSantis made the determination that the state was ready to move past Phase 2 based on the state continuing a downward trend in new COVID-19 cases while maintaining adequate health-care capacity.

It also maintains that individuals should continue to social-distance and minimize time spent in large crowds, and businesses should practice adequate sanitation practices in order to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Here’s what changes under the Phase 3 order:

  • Restaurants, bars and nightclubs that derive more than 50% of sales from alcohol can operate at full capacity. Plastic menus should be cleaned after each use.
  • Gyms and fitness centers can open at full capacity
  • Other businesses that can reopen with limited social distancing; movie theaters, concert halls, auditoriums, bowling alleys, arcades, playhouses and casinos)
  • Businesses should continue to encourage employees to work remotely but should begin implementing plans for them to return to work.
  • Employees can resume non-essential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel
  • Local governments can resume in-person meetings
  • State parks can fully reopen, including for overnight stays, public beaches can fully reopen
  • Large sporting events can resume, but limited capacity is recommended
  • Theme parks can return to normal operations with limited social distancing protocols.
  • Vacation rentals can reopen, but owners should continue disinfecting
  • Business such as salons, barber shops and nail salons should maintain sanitation practices between customer visits and remove frequent-touch items such as magazines, newspapers and service menus.
  • Businesses can still require customers to wear masks, but DeSantis said "all outstanding fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals are suspended."

The order still calls for older residents and vulnerable populations with underlying medical conditions to heed caution and avoid large crowds while practicing social distancing.