JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a widely anticipated move, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that gyms across Florida can reopen beginning on Monday as the state moves forward with the first phase of its recovery.
Appearing in Jacksonville alongside Mayor Lenny Curry and staff from Ascension St. Vincent’s, the governor said gyms and fitness centers can resume operations as long as people follow state and federal guidelines requiring them to maintain a safe, social distance from one another.
Among the other changes would be allowing restaurants, retail stores, museums and libraries to increase their capacities to 50% up from the 25% capacity previously allowed under the initial step Florida took when it began its recovery earlier this month. Bars remain closed.
“If you’re inside, make sure you’re doing the social distance and then sanitize machines and surfaces after us,” DeSantis said. “I mean, that should be happening anyways. I mean if you’re sweating on the dip bar, clean the dip bar when you’re done doing dips. I mean come on.”
DeSantis called Monday’s move a “full phase one.” The only thing that Florida isn’t allowing at this point in the phase one plan that the president’s team has deemed OK is the reopening of movie theaters.
“I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I would probably need a little bit more information before I pulled the trigger on that,” DeSantis said. “Of course, drive-thru theaters are 100% fine and are virtually no risk and so we’d encourage people to do the drive-thru.”
Epic Theaters in St. Augustine recently opened its drive-in theater option.
DeSantis also said that the state’s widely panned unemployment system, which he likened to a broken car entering the Daytona 500 and trying to race, has seen better results the last few weeks as the state increased the infrastructure and employees to help with the deluge of requests.
“It was designed to have 1,000 people on at a time, and it could surge to 5000 people. That was what it was designed for,” he said. “When you stop the economy, you had 100,000 people trying to access the system. So the system broke.”
DeSantis said that the state could be close to surpassing in $2 billion in unemployment funds distributed to residents.