DeSantis: Gyms Can Reopen Monday, Many Businesses Can Increase to 50% Capacity

May 15, 2020

Governor Ron DeSantis says Florida will be in full Phase 1 of reopening by Monday, after the state was effectively shut down to stop the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

Speaking alongside Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry at Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital on Friday afternoon, DeSantis said that means restaurants, retail stores, museums, libraries, gyms, and fitness centers will all be allowed to operate at 50% indoor capacity as long as they continue to maintain social distancing.

“It doesn’t mean the disease is gone, doesn’t mean that we’re not going to still have to do things to be able to protect the folks that are the most vulnerable. But the American people never signed up for a perpetual shelter in place, and we need to be able to get society functioning again,” the governor said.

However, DeSantis has decided to keep movie theaters closed for the time being, even though they are included under federal guidelines for Phase 1 reopening, because, “When you're in enclosed indoor environments the virus is just more transmissible,” he explained.

Museums and libraries will have to first get permission from local governments and individuals using gyms and fitness centers will be required to sanitize every machine and surface they use.

Pro sports teams will also be allowed to resume training and pro sports venues will be allowed to reopen and operate for games, events, competitions, and training.

Additionally, amusement parks can submit reopening plans to the state after getting an endorsement from a mayor or county administrator.

Counties can also ask the state for short-term rentals like Air BnBs to be reauthorized.

“If you tell me you’re going to rent them out to people from New York City, I’m probably not going to approve that,” DeSantis said.

The governor said he hasn’t made a decision on summer camps yet, but he expects to make that announcement in the near future.

“I think to deprive kids of having any type of activities over the summer, particularly young kids, I think would be a big mistake,” he said.

The governor pointed out that bars aren’t included in federal Phase 1 reopening guidelines, so they will remain closed for the time being.

DeSantis also said Friday that he thinks it would have been unconstitutional to close churches.

“You can go to a liquor store but you can't go to church? Give me a break,” he said. “So we really worked with the pastors to make it safe, and they understand that there's risk if you don't do it the right way. But I think that collaborative approach, respecting people's constitutional rights, is the better approach.”

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.