TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As Florida begins a gradual reopening beginning Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis is already mapping a plan for continued openings, and small businesses are chomping at the bit.
Restaurants and nonessential retail stores can open at 25% capacity and hospitals can resume scheduling nonemergency procedures on Monday. But nail salons, barbershops, movie theaters and gyms, all of which require close contact, will remain closed under phase one of DeSantis’ plan to reopen the state
“I haven’t had a haircut since February,” DeSantis said Wednesday.
But as the governor announced the state’s gradual reopening, he was optimistic more businesses could be open soon.
“There’s not going to be a firm time. I thought about doing it that way, but we look at the data on an hourly basis, on a daily basis," DeSantis said. “My hope would be, each phase, we’re thinking about weeks, we’re not thinking about months.”
One of the most important pieces of information in reopening will be the percentage of new COVID-19 cases to the number of tests. Other key data being monitored are the daily fatality rate and the number of available hospital beds, both of which can be key indicators of which way the disease is heading. Those numbers remaining steady or falling could speed up the governor’s decision.
“It’s not what you sell, but how you sell it. And we believe that there are many more businesses who can practice their commerce safely,” said Bill Herrle, who represents Florida’s small businesses in the state Capitol.
For unemployed information technology worker Scott Read, the governor’s actions so far mean little.
“I don’t think I will get my job back just because my industry was heavily related to travel and tourism,” Read said.
Capitol News Service was told not all, but some, state parks are also likely to open soon.
And the Florida Department of Health said that following basic guidelines can hasten the reopening.
“So making sure you are being 6 feet apart, washing your hands often,” said Deputy Secretary of Health Shamarial Roberson.