Gov. Ron DeSantis is readying most of the state to enter Phase Two reopening, and it appears Jacksonville could host Friday’s official announcement.
The Governor, addressing reporters in Doral Thursday, said that a “good announcement” was coming Friday that would apply to most of the state.
The announcement came just hours after Tampa Bay Times reporter Lawrence Mower tweeted a Florida Chamber email saying to expect a May 18 entrance into Phase Two. The Governor disclaimed any advance announcement in response to reporters’ questions, claiming to “march to the beat of [his] own drummer.”
In Phase Two, people from vulnerable populations would still be asked to self-isolate, groups of up to 50 would be permitted, albeit with social distancing still in play. Phase Two would also allow increased restaurant capacity, as well as the reopening of gyms, schools, and bars with social distancing and diminished occupancy.
The Governor stressed these are modest changes.
“Phase Two really isn’t that different from what Florida’s done already … basically about opening up bars and some of those things.”
The Governor expressed enthusiasm for gyms reopening.
“Sanitation” is one key, as well as gym users being ‘in shape,’ the Governor said, citing the importance of “access to gyms” and “exercise.”
DeSantis lauded his decision not to crack down on golfing during the coronavirus-driven economic shutdowns of the last two months.
“Outdoors is our friend,” the Governor said. “The Villages had a record amount of tee sheets and zero people from the Villages are in that UF hospital right now.”
“Daycares,” DeSantis noted, have been “open the whole time.”
Though South Florida may still be on a slower path, the Governor notes that Florida is a “diverse state,” and he won’t “sit here rolling back the entire state if there’s an outbreak in Hialeah.”
“Outside prisons and nursing homes,” the Governor noted, there are “very few cases.”
“There are millions and millions of Floridians who may never know anyone who’s been affected by coronavirus, but they’ve sure been affected by these mitigation efforts,” DeSantis said, citing students missing out on their high school graduations as examples.
A Jacksonville announcement would be fitting, as the Governor has cobranded with the city throughout the crisis, which has seen DeSantis and Mayor Lenny Curry message in tandem.
Earlier this week, Curry described a “restless” Jacksonville ready to move to Phase Two.
He also asserted that DeSantis is “as anxious as anyone to get these things open,” Curry said, referring to shuttered businesses.
One issue of particular interest in Northeast Florida is the vacation rental industry, shuttered since March.
Curry’s team expected movement on that weeks ago, and it didn’t happen. Could Friday in Jacksonville bring change, however?
This story first appeared at Florida Politics.
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