Starting Monday, restaurants and retailers in Palm Beach County will able to open for business with restrictions, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced at a press conference in West Palm Beach.
“I think Palm Beach is incredibly important for our state,” he said Friday. “It’s not like flipping a switch ... but we’ll be able to get people back to work.”
Palm Beach County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to send a letter to DeSantis asking for his blessing to break away from Miami-Dade and Broward counties and start reopening nonessential businesses. Friday, the county voted to open its beaches on May 18.
The three South Florida counties were originally excluded from the state’s first reopening order, which went into effect Monday. The “phase one” reopening plan allowed restaurants and other nonessential businesses to reopen their doors with new social-distancing rules in place.
Palm Beach has seen more than 3,500 reported cases of COVID-19 and 226 deaths from the disease, a higher rate of death than Broward and slightly lower than Miami-Dade when factoring in population.
“The economy needs help and a way forward that balances public safety and the emphasis and focus on rebuilding our economy,” Palm Beach Mayor Dave Kerner said.
On Wednesday, DeSantis alluded to South Florida reopening, assuring South Floridians watching at home that together, they will “craft an appropriate way forward” to bring back parts of the economy in South Florida that are so crucial to the state, like tourism and hospitality.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Friday announced that he plans to allow some businesses to reopen May 18.
“We need to get the economy going and do it as safely as possible,” he said at a press conference.
Gimenez did not say which industries would be exempted from his March 19 order that closed what the mayor deemed “non-essential” businesses. He said beaches would remain closed on May 18, as would nightclubs and movie theaters. He said rules for reopening would circulate next week and suggested they would include a plan for reopening restaurants.
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