FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida is moving to Phase 2 of reopening after the new coronavirus lockdown, with a reopening of movie theaters, bars and bowling alleys. But again, South Florida is excluded.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday announced that bars with outdoor seating would open Friday. So will movie theaters and bowling alleys, with restrictions.
Bar areas may be open with seated service, and outdoor seating is allowed with social distancing. Movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades can now open at 50% of their building capacity.
But South Florida, which has led the state in the number of infections and deaths, will lag behind and open at a later, undetermined date.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Giménez said the county isn’t ready to open those businesses just yet. “We’ll be allowing more and more, but there is no timetable right now,” he said Wednesday. “We need to continue to have this downward trend.”
Bars will open “in the near future,” but remain “problematic.”
At bars, it is “one person up against other, it’s harder to control social distancing. That’s why you go to a bar, right?”
“We want to make sure we don’t open up things too soon, the last thing I want to do is close things up again.”
Next week will begin the opening of dance studios, summer school and summer camps in Miami-Dade and “gyms are not too far in the future, maybe next week, too. Then bowling alleys and even casinos.”
In Florida, 2,566 people have so far died from the coronavirus, but DeSantis said the situation is getting better.
He said there have not been any fatalities in Florida of anyone under age 18. He said 85% fatalities have been for people in the age group of 65 and older. The greatest risk is for anyone age 65 and older, but especially for people ages 90 and older, he said.
For the bulk of the working-age population, “the risk is much lower,” he said. “We know where the at-risk population is.”
He said more than 1 million people in Florida have been tested for the virus to be able to identify cases and isolate people, which is about 1 out of every 20 people. About 94% to 99% of those tests are coming back negative.
Walk-up testing sites will be added around the state, he said.
April 12 was the peak for the virus, DeSantis said, and the number of people hospitalized have trended downward since.
He said the peak in Broward for hospitalizations was the second week in April with 450 patients. Today the number is “under 200 people hospitalized,” he said. “They’ve had some good trends.”
Still, he said people ages 65 and older or who have health issues must continue to avoid crowds “and limit the risk of exposure.”
“The virus isn’t gone,” he said. “But I think we have an opportunity to move forward.”
©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)