TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida is now in “full” Phase One of the governor’s plan to reopen the state and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The question now on everyone’s mind is when will Phase Two begin?
When does Phase Two start?
On Friday, May 15, the governor announced Florida would enter its “full” Phase One on May 18. The “full” Phase One includes some things that were allowed in Phase One but not implemented by the governor immediately.
An FAQ sheet the governor’s office released along with the executive order also doesn’t give a specific date for when Phase Two will begin.
“When can we expect Phase Two to start?” is one of the first questions in the FAQ.
The answer given is, “Once the governor determines it is suitable to continue reopening and after fully considering medical data in consultation with state health officials.”
While no specific medical data is listed, the governor has stressed the importance of the state’s positivity rate, or the percentage of tests that are coming back positive.
The governor has also stressed that he wants to take a cautious approach to reopening the state.
“We’re being deliberate, we’re being methodical about this because we want to make sure we’re doing it the right way,” DeSantis said. “Just because you go to Phase One does not mean the disease is going away. It’s not going to just go away magically.”
According to the governor’s “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” recovery plan, Florida will move on to Phase Two only after the successful conclusion of the first phase. According to the guidelines, that includes “a downward trajectory of the syndromic and epidemiology criteria while maintaining adequate health care capacity.” DeSantis’ plan says that happens when there is no evidence of a rebound or any kind of resurgence of coronavirus cases. It also has to satisfy certain benchmarks that are laid out in the plan.
If data suggests there is an increased spread at any point, Florida will remain in Phase One.
According to the governor’s Reopen Florida Task Force, “the state should continually review any sudden, unexplained spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases while factoring in increases in testing and monitor any increases in hospitalizations.”
What is Phase Two?
Another question we’ve seen frequently since the beginning of Phase One is what is Phase Two?
It’s hard to say with complete certainty what will be included since the decision is ultimately up to the governor and will be based on the state’s situation when the decision is being made. But guidelines from the Reopen Florida Task Force give us an idea of what we could see in Phase Two.
According to the plan released by the Reopen Florida Task Force, the second phase of reopening still urges anyone who is more vulnerable – the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions – to stay home.
Restrictions for the rest of the population are relaxed more in the second phase.
Everyone in Phase Two will be asked to continue maximizing social distancing from others in public, especially in enclosed environments. In Phase Two, however, people are asked to avoid socializing in groups of more than 50 people. Phase One calls for groups to remain much smaller with just 10 people or fewer.
Phase Two also allows non-essential travel to continue.
Bars, pubs and nightclubs will be allowed to open in Phase Two but will only be able to reach 50 percent of their building capacity. Restaurants and other food establishments will be able to increase their capacity to a maximum of 75 percent. Social distancing is still encouraged in all settings.
Some things listed in Phase Two will now be included in the “full” Phase One. Gyms and fitness centers, for example, will be allowed to reopen starting Monday, May 18. Gov. DeSantis also decided to allow barbershops and salons to reopen in Phase One – on Monday, May 11.
The governor announced Friday theme parks will be allowed to start submitting plans for reopening when the state moves into “full” Phase One on May 18.
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