Reopening Florida: Who’s left out of Phase One?


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As Florida prepares to reopen some businesses on Monday in Phase One of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan, some businesses are being left out.

Gyms, movie theaters and sporting venues are specifically excluded from the governor’s plan. That’s bad news for Bayshore Fit co-owners Jeff Fink and Beth Scanlan.

“We’re not billing anyone,” said Scanlan. “We have no income.”

However, they’re confident the measures they took after coronavirus began to spread, but before the gym was forced to close due to the governor’s executive order last month, are enough to keep people safe.

“I believe that our atmosphere is a cleaner, safer atmosphere than a retail atmosphere,” said Fink. “I had a friend say ‘you can’t tell me that your gym is more dangerous to the public than a Walmart or Publix, just with the amount of people coming in.'”

Other businesses excluded from the governor’s first phase of reopening Florida include bars, nightclubs, and personal services at places like barbershops and salons.

But Fink and Scanlan, like many business owners who have been left out of Phase One, feel like they can keep people safe. They’re just not willing to risk it.

“We do not want to lose our business license over this,” said Scanlan, “and we’ve heard rumors in other states of that happening.”

8 On Your Side took their concerns to attorney Mike Winer of the Winer Law Group, who handles business law, personal injury and workers’ compensation claims.

Winer said it’s unclear whether the governor has the authority to specifically exclude certain businesses while allowing others to open.

“While I think it has a solid foundation in wanting to support good public health, I don’t know from a legal and constitutional standpoint that the governor has the power to enact some of the rules that he’s been enacting,” Winer said.

Complicating matters is the fact that gyms, along with movie theaters and sporting venues, were included in President Donald Trump’s three-phase plan for reopening the economy.

Gov. DeSantis’ order did not specifically say when Phase Two will be allowed to move forward and businesses like Bayshore Fit can reopen.

Fink and Scanlan said they’re anxious, but they don’t want to have to do this twice.

“We try to track what’s going on in China and some of these other countries,” Scanlan said. “And gyms reopened, then gyms had to shut down again. And we just don’t want that to happen to us.”

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