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Good news, folks – Florida is open for business! 100% open because last Friday, Gov Ron DeSantis signed an executive order that officially moved the state into Phase 3 of their reopening by allowing restaurants and bars to open to 100% capacity. The bad news is COVID is still claiming American lives in the thousands daily, so this may not have been the best idea. And not only is this potentially harmful, it’s also incredibly confusing since DeSantis is pushing for one thing, and local governments are pushing for another.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Friday allowing restaurants and bars to immediately begin operating at 100% capacity.
The move means the state is transitioning into Phase 3 of reopening. The order treats restaurants and bars differently in terms of what local municipalities can do to restrict operations.
“There will not be limitations, from the state of Florida,” he said.
DeSantis’ order says no Covid-19 emergency ordinance can prevent a person from working or from operating a business. Local governments are unable to limit restaurants to less than 50% capacity under DeSantis’ new order, even with local government Covid-19 emergency orders.
If a local government Covid-19 emergency order limiting restaurant to less than 100% of its indoor capacity but above 50%, the government must explain why the limitation is necessary for public health and quantify the economic impact of the limits.
“If a local (government) restricts between 50 and 100, they’ve got to provide the justification and they’ve got to identify what the costs are involved with doing that are,” DeSantis said.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he was disappointed he did not know about DeSantis’ executive order until the press conference Friday.
“As we deal with this pandemic, everything happens at a local level, this is where the rubber meets the road. And in order for us to be effective at dealing with the virus, we have to have good communications across the state,” Demings said, adding that his office received calls from “numerous businesses” seeking clarity following the governor’s statements.
“It really isn’t a good look for government, when we are not all on the same sheet of music and so I just hope that the government does better with that,” Demings said.
DeSantis, in “an act of executive grace,” also suspended “all outstanding fines and penalties that have been applied against individuals” associated with pandemic-related mandates, like mask requirements.
“I think we need to get away from trying to penalize people for social distancing,” DeSantis said. “All these fines we’re going to hold in abeyance and hope that we can move forward in a way that’s more collaborative.”
This is what I don’t get, and it goes for all the anti-maskers and everyone else who is pushing to reopen America – just because you do it doesn’t mean the virus goes away. I realize a portion of those folks actually think the virus is a hoax, but what do the rest think will happen, their defiance will shield them from an airborne disease? California reopened restaurants and bars when we’d successfully flattened the curve. The capacities were under 50%. The whole state was shut back down within a month. If there was ever a time to learn from each other’s mistakes, it’s now. Especially when this is how a portion of the population responds to DeSantis’ decision:
— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) September 27, 2020
We’ve made the points as to why reopening needs to be carefully regulated on this site plenty. This EO is especially troubling because it throws consistency out the window. In addition to the Orange County mayor, the Miami-Dade mayor wants to keep his restaurants at 50%. But with DeSantis out here waiving penalties for breaking COVID restrictions and telling his constituents that people should not be penalized for not following the rules, what are the local mayors are going to do? Anyone hoping to defy the local mandate can plead the Nuh-uh – The Governor Said I Didn’t Have To defense. The onus will be up to the individual business to uphold their own restrictions and that poor business owner will have to choose between their health and their livelihood when certain patrons boycott them for enforcing the rules.
However, those hoping to stay within regulations do have some high-powered advocates in their corner, at least for now. Disney, LEGOLAND, ZooTampa and Clearwater Marine Aquarium have all issued statements saying they will still adhere to CDC recommended social distancing precautions, many including mask mandates for entry. We’ll see if they stick to their guns but it’s a powerful statement for now and I say good for them. Especially since DeSantis is already bragging that he plans to host a 100% capacity Superbowl in February 2021, which falls before the projected timeline for widespread vaccines.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 28, 2020
— roy feifer (@RoyFeifer) September 27, 2020
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