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Phase 2: Florida bars and movie theaters can reopen today

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Most of Florida will enter its second phase of reopening on Friday.

Entertainment businesses including movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades can reopen. They will have to operate at 50 percent capacity. Appropriate social distancing and sanitation protocols will be required.

Bars will also be allowed to reopen at full capacity outside with social distancing. Customers will only be served if they are seated.

Stores and gyms will be allowed to operate at full capacity in phase two, but will need to have “responsible social distancing” and sanitation protocols in place.

As more businesses reopen, Tampa General Hospital is offering a program to help businesses come up with infection prevention reopening plans.

“We are a learning as we go. We have not had a pandemic of this size where we’re able to study what works and doesn’t work,” said Dr. Seetha Lakshmi Assistant Professor with USF, and Associate Hospital Epidemiologist with TGH.

The Florida Aquarium opened under phase one with help and guidance from TGH. Medical experts reviewed and recommended safety measures for the aquarium including social distancing, hand sanitizing stations, one way paths, limited number of guests, and requiring masks.

Dr. Seetha said the recommendations everyone should be following are proper hand sanitation, social distancing, and everyone wearing a mask when in close proximity of others.

“We are far enough in the pandemic that we have been able to study societies that use masks and that don’t use masks. We have seen clear distinction in those societies. We know the distance to which the droplets spread when you cough is much less when you’re in a mask.  All of us want to get back to a sense of normalcy, and the better we are in doing it safely, the faster we’ll get there. There are no shortcuts at this time.”

TGH Prevention Response Outreach (TPRO) is a new consulting service provided by Tampa General Hospital. Infection prevention experts, including leaders of the hospital’s Infection Prevention team, Infectious Disease physicians from the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, and TGH’s private practice physicians who specialize in infectious disease help businesses safeguard their employees and visitors as they emerge from COVID-19 and re-open to the public.

“Depending on how big the business is, and what is the amount of risk involved in transmission of infection. So we have been able to provide a range of services,” said Dr. Lakshmi.

TPRO services include, reviewing and offering feedback on any existing plans in place, visiting sites to identify the opportunities to improve overall health and safety, and educating staff on infection prevention steps.

For more information on the program click here.

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