Florida Moves Into Phase One of Recovery
Most parts of Florida have moved into “Phase One” of resuming daily activities as the country gradually, and hopefully, moves past the height of COVID-19 concerns. Phase One marks the expiration of Florida’s “Safer at Home” directive in which citizens were asked to largely remain in their homes and avoid non-essential activity.
For Phase One, Governor Ron DeSantis has issued Executive Order 2020-112 allowing certain additional activities. For example, restaurants will be allowed to re-open with outdoor seating and with their indoor seating limited to 25 percent of capacity. Retailers are allowed to open while limiting guests to 25 percent of capacity. DeSantis also agreed to allow hospitals to resume elective procedures because COVID-19 has not put demands on hospital and ICU capacity at levels once feared. Although the Florida guidelines for re-opening are similar in some respects to the federal guidance, the Florida approach is more conservative in some areas reflecting the Governor’s desire to proceed slowly and closely monitor the experience in Florida and other states.
The tri-county region of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach is a significant exception to the May 4 commencement of Phase One. This region accounts for 59% of the COVID-19 cases identified thus far in Florida. Therefore, working with local officials, the Governor has excluded this area from the Phase One re-opening.
It is not yet clear when Florida will move from Phase One to Phase Two. The Governor expressed hope this will be in weeks, not months. However, this will depend on Florida’s success in re-opening without a significant setback.