Gov. Ron DeSantis did an about-face on Friday by announcing that hair and nail salons can reopen on Monday.
DeSantis made the announcement via Twitter and Facebook through a video showing John Henry, owner of a barber shop in downtown Orlando. DeSantis met with Henry, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and other hair and nail salon owners last Saturday at the barbershop as they made an argument to allow their businesses to reopen.
During the short video presentation, Henry said he was happy to join with DeSantis in announcing the plan to reopen the personal-services businesses with enhanced safety protocols that have yet to be outlined. DeSantis’ Reopen Florida Task Force had suggested those employees wear masks, constantly wipe down their workstations and have customers wait outside the salons before their appointments.
“We are ready to get back to work and make some money,” Henry said. “But getting back to work, we want to be safe and continue to wear our gloves, wear a mask, book by appointments and continue to keep the community safe.”
Henry said he knows customers across the Sunshine State – with the exception of those still under stay-at-home orders in Miami-Dade and Broward counties – are anxious to support the personal-services salons where many have been long-term customers.
“I’m very excited,” Henry said. “Let’s look forward to opening on Monday.”
DeSantis’ change in course came on the same day that Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn announced that he had instructed Police Chief Greg Graham and his officers to ignore the governor’s Phase One reopening plans. Those included mandates for restaurants to operate at 25 percent capacity inside their dining rooms and have tables spaced apart at least six feet on outside patios. And in addition to hair and nail salons, DeSantis’ original reopening guidelines also prevented gyms and fitness centers from reopening.
Friday’s announcement didn’t change the strict guidelines on restaurants nor allow gyms to reopen. But in Ocala, Guinn said his officers won’t enforce those rules nor will they prevent groups of 10 or more from gathering together. He claimed the Phase One orders violate the community’s right to freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.
It remained unclear Friday night what could happen to Ocala business owners who ignore DeSantis’ order if state enforcement agencies get involved. They likely could face repercussions from agencies like the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, among others.
Guinn’s press conference also followed a post he put on his Facebook page on May 2 sharing his frustrations with the guarded reopening plan. He said he had spent at least five minutes trying to find a parking space at a Lowe’s Home Improvement store, yet other businesses were being strictly limited or prevented from reopening entirely.
Guinn’s stand against DeSantis followed a similar stance taken last week by Marion County Commission Chairman Kathy Bryant. She held a press conference on April 30 and made it clear that she and her fellow commissioners disagreed with portions of the governor’s plan to reopen Florida. She pushed for DeSantis to follow his own task force’s recommendations and allow restaurants, gyms and personal-services business to reopen at 50 percent capacity during Phase One.
Earlier this week, Bryant also joined with Lake County Commission Chairman Leslie Campione and Levy County Commission Chairman Matt Brooks to again implore DeSantis to allow their counties to use the task force’s reopening plan for restaurants, gyms and personal service providers. Bryant said she understand DeSantis was busy but was frustrated that Marion County leaders hadn’t heard back from him since she issued the request to loosen the reopening guidelines.