“We all desperately want things to return back to normal, but that can’t happen when DeSantis and Trump have no plan to get us out of this public health crisis,” she said.
Under the state’s reopening plan, Phase 3 allows for bars and nightclubs to operate at full capacity “with limited social distancing protocols.” It was unclear immediately how the order would affect Miami-Dade County, the county hardest-hit by the virus, which has kept bars and nightclubs closed since March. The county’s mayor had said he hoped to allow for some operation with restrictions such as table service only; the governor’s order prohibits the closure of any business.
The order also appeared to render largely toothless other local restrictions, such as mask mandates and curfews, by suspending the collection of individual fines and other penalties imposed for violating virus-related restrictions.
Cases are down significantly in the state after a big surge over the summer. The governor has touted the fact that Florida was able to come down from the spike without imposing a lockdown as evidence that shutting down businesses should not be contemplated to try to contain the virus in the future. Jason Mahon, a spokesman for Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, which operates state-run testing sites, says the sites have plenty of capacity but fewer people are coming to get tested. Testing is also conducted at municipal, federal and private sites.
As of Thursday, Florida was testing 38 percent of a testing target developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute that measures the minimum amount of testing necessary to mitigate the disease. The state had a positivity rate of 12 percent for the total number of tests processed over the two-week period ending Thursday, according to data analyzed by The Times. Positive rates should be at or below 5 percent for at least 14 days before a state or country can safely reopen, according to the World Health Organization.
Emergency room visits related to the virus peaked in early July and hospitalizations on July 21, Mr. DeSantis said. On Friday, Florida added more than 2,800 new cases and 120 new deaths. In total, the state has recorded more than 695,000 cases and more than 13,900 deaths, according to a Times database.
If a county wants to restrict restaurant capacity between 50 and 100 percent, Mr. DeSantis said, it will need to provide justification to the state.