Gov. DeSantis says announcement about Florida gyms coming Friday

Florida’s governor to announce more ways the state can reopen

Gov. Ron DeSantis announces South Florida counties can begin reopening.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announces South Florida counties can begin reopening. (WJXT)

DORAL, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will visit Jacksonville on Friday to announce additional “phase one” measures to reopen the state’s economy, with the moves expected to include allowing more people to be seated in restaurants and allowing gyms to operate.

DeSantis gave that stay-tuned comment Thursday while announcing that Miami-Dade and Broward could join the rest of the counties in the state that started taking steps to reopen 10 days ago to recover from the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

He signaled that allowing people to work out in gyms will be one of the changes.

“This is a virus that, if you're in good shape, you're probably going to be OK. So, why would we want to dissuade people from going to be in shape?” DeSantis said during a news conference in Doral.

DeSantis has been prompting people throughout the pandemic to go outside for a walk, a run, a bike ride and to even play golf.

“It’s like 90-plus percent of the folks under 65 that have had fatalities have had serious conditions, and many of that has been tied to obesity,” DeSantis said.

Locally-owned gyms in Jacksonville ready to reopen

Like most gyms in Jacksonville, San Marco Strong is a single business, owned locally. Anthony Duran started opened the gym less than two years ago and the restrictions during the pandemic have been tough on business.

“A big hit,” Duran said. “We’ve been shut down for two months. We are very fortunate for several members who have continued to pay dues for them being able to do the workouts online. ... I could not be more thankful--I get choked up a little bit on that, but we’re going to be all right, and I think we’ll see that throughout a lot of our local gyms.”

Duran and other gym owners have been keeping in touch with their clients by hosting Zoom workouts.

Like Duran, Amy Saltmarsh owns a small gym and she says she had to get creative to try to keep her clients connected to the gym community.

“Offerings like yoga and all these different workshops just to try and keep people really engaged, but you sign up for something and expect one thing and then you’re what you’re getting is very different,” Saltmarsh said. “We’ve had to really adapt.”

Ultimately, Duran says that adhering to the guidelines is the first step, but he also has to reassure gym members that it’s a safe place to be.

“I just felt so grateful to be able to do that, and I’m excited to do that,” Duran said. “I’m excited to see everybody. And I know they’ve expressed that they’re excited to see one another, as well.”

South Florida can begin reopening Monday

Because more than 40% of the people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Florida were in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, they were excluded from DeSantis’ initial executive order two week ago lifting the stay-at-home order and to allow the limited reopening of restaurants and many other non-essential businesses.

Within the last week, DeSantis allowed Palm Beach County to lift some restrictions and gave the green light for hair salons, barbers and nail salons across the state to reopen.

“There are millions and millions of people that don’t even know someone effected by coronavirus, but their lives have been affected by the mitigation efforts."

DeSantis said he would be in Jacksonville to open “next steps” in the state’s reopening process.

“The phase one that we did did not include all of the steps that we could have done under the guidelines, so I’ll have an announcement on that tomorrow,” DeSantis said Thursday.

As of Thursday morning, the Florida Department of Health reported 43,210 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,875 people have died.

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