On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Florida would be moving to “Phase 2”of its reopening plans, the second of a three-step process, this week.
With the reopening of bars, movie theaters and other venues, Phase 2 is a significant step toward normal life. Here are some common questions about it:
When does it take effect?
Friday, June 5.
Which counties are allowed to move to Phase 2?
All counties in Florida except for Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.
Why isn’t South Florida a part of the Phase 2 plans?
Those three counties have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, so they’re reopening more cautiously. However, DeSantis is allowing them to enter Phase 2 at the request of a county mayor or county administrator.
What’s allowed to reopen under Phase 2?
Bars, movie theaters, concert houses, bowling alleys and arcades are all allowed to reopen at 50 percent indoor capacity, with “appropriate social distancing between groups” and “appropriate sanitation.” They can have full outdoor seating as well, with social distancing.
Tattoo shops, acupuncture, tanning and massage parlors can also reopen if they adhere to guidance from the Florida Department of Health.
So I can sit at a bar and enjoy a beer?
You bet. But you have to sit. Only people who are seated are allowed to be served. The state still wants to avoid groups of people crowded around bars.
So I can go see a movie now, too?
Sure. Movie theaters are allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity. But they might not open right away. Cinemark is aiming to reopen theaters beginning June 19. Cineworld, the owner of Regal Cinemas, is looking at reopening in July. AMC theaters might never reopen, however, because of the financial hit from the shutdown.
Wait a minute, some massage parlors have been open and operating, and so have some bowling alleys. What’s up with that?
Yes, some have been open. According to the Florida Massage Therapy Association, Florida’s surgeon general included them in the Phase 1, although the state order didn’t explicitly include them. Phase 2 explicitly includes them.
And some counties, including Pinellas, have already allowed bowling alleys to reopen at limited capacity.
Are there any changes to restaurants under Phase 2?
Yes. They can now serve people seated at a bar counter.
What about nightclubs?
It appears nightclubs can’t reopen, although the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation wasn’t able to confirm that on Thursday. The governor’s order appears to exclude them, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Q&A says nightclubs aren’t part of Phase 2 because bar patrons must be sitting down to be served.
What about shops and other retail stores?
They can now operate at full capacity with “responsible social distancing and sanitization protocols."
They can operate at full capacity as well, with “appropriate social distancing and frequent sanitization."
So can I go gamble now, too?
Many tribal casinos are already open, since they aren’t subject to state laws. Under Phase 2, parimutuels can submit a request to reopen to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The request must include an endorsement from a county mayor or county administrator.
How do I measure 50 percent capacity?
The state is defining it as half of the seats on the business’ state license, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has their own extensive Q&A here. Employees are not included in the count.
What about crowd sizes?
The state is still encouraging people to avoid crowds of 50 or more people.
Can I go visit my family member at a long-term care facility now?
No. People 65 and older and people with underlying health conditions are still at increased risk from COVID-19, and visitation to those facilities is still prohibited.
What if someone violates the Phase 2 orders?
They could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
What about Phase 3?
The governor has not said when the state will move to the Phase 3.
What’s left to reopen?
Nightclubs, for one. It appears stadiums and other sports venues are closed, too. Those would presumably open under Phase 3. And state universities are expected to announce their plans on June 23.
Tampa Bay Times staff writer Sharon Wynne contributed to this report.
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