Updated at 7 p.m.
Photo via Office of the Governor
On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the state will begin lifting stay-at-home orders starting Monday, May 4.
His plan, which he calls “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step," will involve gradually lifting lockdowns in key areas around Florida over the next few weeks, and allows restaurants and shops to reopen with limited occupancy.
“Today, Florida will take a step—small, deliberate, methodical, and based on consultation with some of our greatest physicians—towards a more hopeful future,” said DeSantis during the press conference. “We do have hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
DeSantis’ first phase of the plan starts Monday, and will include:
- Restaurants being allowed to do outdoor seating with six-foot social distancing
- Schools remaining closed and practicing distance learning.
- Retail stores opening at 25% indoor capacity
- Bars, gyms and salons remaining closed
- Elective surgeries resuming
- Nursing homes and long-term care facility visits still being prohibited
- People still avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people
"I will be holding a press conference at 5:00 PM to announce my SAFE. SMART. STEP-BY-STEP. Plan to Re-Open Florida." DeSantis tweeted
on Wednesday at 3:26 p.m.
Notably, the statewide plan will not include Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, which area areas health officials say have been hit hardest.
Phase one also recommends people continue to stay home, avoid groups of 10 or more, and continue to wear face masks when necessary.
“The only thing we have to fear is letting fear overwhelm our sense of purpose and determination,” said DeSantis, who also mentioned that phase 2 could come within the next few weeks.
In response to today's announcement, Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo released the following statement:
“More than 1,000 Floridians have died in this pandemic, but you wouldn’t know it listening to Governor DeSantis’ indignant press conference today," said Rizzo. "Just like Trump, DeSantis did not spend his time at the bully pulpit thanking frontline workers or consoling families who have lost loved ones, but deriding the media and ‘doom and gloom’ scientific models that showed a no-action scenario. Enough with the self-congratulatory media performances, where are the tests?”
As of today, Florida is currently ranked 22nd in the country for per capita testing, and has had 33,193 cases of coronavirus and 1,218 deaths.
This story originally appeared in our sister paper Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
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