All bars and nightclubs statewide will be suspended for the next 30 days beginning 5 p.m. on March 17.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his executive order Tuesday morning.
“I think that you've seen a lot of things about people congregating at some of these things,” DeSantis said. “We view that as something that could be problematic for spreading the virus. Stealth carriers, people who don't have symptoms, but then are nevertheless passing along mild symptoms, is something that, really, nobody has a handle on that. If they're not meeting in those big groups and the chance of that being passed on is less.”
Restaurants will be allowed to remain open in Florida, but they will need to screen employees for symptoms of illness, as well as keep no more than 50% capacity in dining areas with tables 6 feet apart.
DeSantis said it will be up to the local officials to decide whether to close beaches across to the state.
“Different localities are going to make decisions about what makes sense,” DeSantis said. “But having talked to mayors, it's certainly not uniform throughout the state that you're seeing massive crowds at beaches. Some of them are, you know, residents and families in small groups.”
The state will follow CDC guidelines across all beaches, limiting groups to no more than 10 people, with distance in between groups, he said.
DeSantis also announced four University of Florida students have tested positive for COVID-19. One was linked to international travel, and two more are being investigated for traveling in hotspots inside the U.S.
“A lot of students have just been congregating at the universities and going out and doing things there,” DeSantis said. “That's not something we want.”
DeSantis said he is recommending to the Board of Governors to tell university presidents to move toward virtual learning for the rest of the spring semester. He said this will encourage students still on campus to go home. Universities and colleges had previously planned to be online through the rest of the month of March.
Read more from WJCT News: Local, State And National Coronavirus Coverage
Sky Lebron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.