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Florida Lifts COVID-19 Restaurant Rules, Halts Mask Penalties

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Restaurants will be able to operate without restrictions in Florida, said Gov. Ron DeSantis Friday as he announced the state would move to Phase 3 of reopening.

What You Need To Know

  • Order allows restaurants, pubs and bars to operate at a minimum of 50 percent capacity
  • Also suspends any penalties for refusal to wear a mask
  • The order supercedes local orders

“Every business has a right to operate… you can’t just say no after six months and have people twisting in the wind,” DeSantis said in St. Petersburg.

In making the announcement, DeSantis said coronavirus survival rates were at 94 percent in the state, and that hospitalizations were down.

DeSantis also said all penalties or fines for refusing to wear masks will be suspended. 

Phase 3 of Florida’s Reopening Plan does suggest restaurants have some social distancing protocols and take sanitation precautions. 

“Businesses should maintain adequate sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation. Menus, if laminated, should continue to be cleaned after each usage. Paper menus shall be designed for single use and then disposed of immediately after use,” the plan says.

But they will be able to operate at a minimum of 50 percent, regardless of any local government rules. They also can’t be closed.

Among the other provisions of Phase 3 of Florida’s reopening plan:

People over 65 years of age and those with underlying health problems should continue to practice social distancing, but can resume public interaction.

Businesses that have been teleworking because of the pandemic can resume unrestricted staffing at work sites.

Employees can resume non-essential travel.

Theme parks can return to normal operations, with limited social distancing protocols.

Gyms and fitness centers can operate at full capacity.

Bars, pubs and nightclubs that derive 50 percent of sales from alcohol can operate at full capacity with social distancing protocols.

The new order affects restaurants, pubs and bars, however the governor pointed out that many of the other businesses in the state are already open .

This is a developing story, check back for the latest.


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