Florida Gov. DeSantis announced that the state, despite experiencing a hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic this summer, was moving into Phase 3 of reopening businesses and restaurants, lifting all restrictions.
DeSantis said that all restaurants, hotels, and bars across Florida can now reopen at full capacity. The Governor, who is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, has received countless backlash and criticism in the past for reopening Florida early on in the pandemic — a move that occurred after DeSantis met with the president.
At a press conference in St. Petersburg, DeSantis said that “There will not be limitations.”
“They can operate at a minimum of 50 percent regardless of local rule, and then, if a local restricts between 50 and 100 [percent], they’ve got to provide the justification, and they’ve got to identify what the costs involved with doing that are.”
On the same day, Florida reported over 2,500 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the state to nearly 700,000 total confirmed cases. Additionally, 177 deaths were recorded on the same day, bringing the death toll to 13,914.
Florida suffered devastating losses last summer after reopening most of its businesses in May, just as the coronavirus cases in the state were starting to crest. COVID-19 infections clustered in South Florida, where municipal officials restrained restrictions on bars and other food establishments in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
The abrupt increase in cases during July and August prompted the Governor to close bars and restrict restaurants to provide take out only. Still, DeSantis has since slowly reopened Florida for business even as the virus continues to decimate the United States.
Florida currently ranks as the third state with the most confirmed cases and fifth in deaths in the United States since the pandemic began.