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Monday, March 27, 2023

DeSantis greenlights Phase Two as Florida reopens amid COVID-19 crisis

Gov. Ron DeSantis gave bars, movie theaters and bowling alleys the OK to reopen this coming Friday as Florida moves into Phase Two of its reopening plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday at Universal Orlando Resort that 64 of Florida’s 67 counties will move into Phase Two of reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That reopening plan includes Marion, Lake and Sumter counties.

DeSantis said bars and pubs can operate at full capacity outside and 50 percent capacity inside as long as social distancing and sanitization rules are being followed. Those customers must be seated to receive service. And restaurants, which currently are operating at 50 percent capacity, will once again be able to offer bar-top seating.

“People go, enjoy, have a drink. It’s fine,” the governor said. “We want to kind of not have huge crowds piling in.”

Under Phase Two, bowling alleys, movie theaters, arcades and auditoriums can reopen at 50 percent capacity. Retail shops will be able to operate at full capacity, as will gyms and health clubs. “Personal” services such as massage and tanning salons, as well as tattoo parlors, also can resume seeing customers. All of those business, however, will be required to continue practicing social distancing and strict sanitizing measures.

DeSantis announced the move to Phase Two at Universal Orlando Resort, which had just opened to passholders and will reopen to the public on Friday. He said the Phase Two plan affects 64 Florida counties, which includes Marion, Lake and Sumter. The three counties that haven’t been given the greenlight to move into Phase Two – Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach – are home to 54.1 percent of the 58,764 COVID-19 cases reported in Florida. Leaders from those counties will be required to submit plans of how they’ll make Phase Two work before being allowed to move forward and join the other counties along the reopening path.