Gov. DeSantis removes COVID-19 restaurants rules, masks penalties and more
Ron DeSantis. Image via Colin Hackley.

Phase Three begins effective immediately.

Florida has entered Phase Three effective immediately, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday, allowing all businesses to open across the state.

The order lifts all COVID-19 state-level restrictions and preempts local governments’ abilities to close businesses and assess fines on individuals.

Florida has been in Phase Two of the reopening process since the first week of June. A month later, Florida reached its peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and pumped the brakes on its reopening plans.

Sixteen weeks later, DeSantis has made the decision to lift all restrictions on businesses. At the state level, that mostly applies to restaurants and bars, both of which had been operating at 50% capacity.

Local governments cannot outright close businesses under the order, but they retain the ability to limit and regulate businesses. Everybody has the right to work and every business has the right to operate, DeSantis said.

“You can’t just say no,” he added. “You can’t say no after six months and just have people twisting in the wind.”

The exception to that is restaurants. Restaurants cannot be restricted further than 50% capacity, and local governments must justify it from an economic and health perspective.

“This is a very difficult industry to succeed in,” DeSantis said, calling the idea that government should lead on restrictions rather than self-imposed business practices “misplaced.”

Finally, local governments cannot collect fines and fees on any individuals, including enforcing mask mandates. Any unpaid fines and penalties are also forgiven, which the Governor called “an act of executive grace.”

“I think we need to get away from trying to penalize people for social distancing and just work with people constructively, put out what you want,” he said. “But to impose some type of penalty of either … all these fines we’re going to hold in abeyance and hope that we can move forward in a way that’s more collaborative.”

Unlike previous phases and sub-phases, all 67 counties are transitioning to Phase Three simultaneously. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties all took delayed paths to Phase Two.

“You can insist on certain regulations, and obviously I think you’re probably going to see a different approach in southern Florida than you will in the Panhandle on some of that, and I think that’s fine,” DeSantis said.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties entered Phase Two two weeks ago. Coinciding with Phase Three, Broward announced plans to ease restrictions beginning Oct. 2, allowing ballrooms and similar venues to operate at 50% capacity with a cap of 100 people inside. Live entertainment and billiards play will once again be permitted at restaurants, and restaurant bars can reopen but are still blocked from serving alcohol.

And unlike the previous phases, Phase Three takes effect immediately. Unlike earlier, when businesses were taking their first steps to opening doors, most businesses have already had practices in place.

While most of the state’s social distancing policies are now lifted, the state of emergency, which allows the state to use CARES Act funds, remains in place until at least November. The state will also continue operating testing facilities and other agency-level responses.

The announcement followed a two-hour virtual panel Thursday, which highlighted controversial scientists from Harvard and Stanford universities. The common thread throughout the talk was that lockdowns are detrimental to the role of herd immunity in society, a politically-charged concept.

“Everything we’ve heard here, for example, in treating age groups differently, makes complete sense,” said Michael Levitt, a professor of structural biology at Stanford. “The need to let young people interact with each other, both for social reasons and for herd immunity, makes perfectly good common sense. I think there should have been more of that.”

DeSantis said people should be prepared for a second wave, but that evidence so far hasn’t shown true second waves of the pandemic. Places that had a delayed separate wave, like Florida, felt little of an initial wave, he added.

He expressed his eagerness to move forward, noting the initial 15 Days to Stop the Spread ordered by President Donald Trump but that some have suggested lockdowns continue even a year after a vaccine rollout.

“The fact that you continue to move forward with the economy, it doesn’t mean that the virus disappears,” he said. “People should just understand, it’s something that we’re just going to have to deal with.”

Added the Governor: “Just as all those experts said yesterday when we had our thing, doing that from a fetal position where society flounders, people are out of work, kids aren’t in school, that is not going to work and that’s not the way forward for us.”

Speaking in St. Petersburg, the site of a dust up between restaurant-goers and protesters Wednesday, DeSantis stood alongside local restaurant owners who supported the move.

“I think that this gives us a real fighting chance,” said JT Corrales, director of business development at Crabby Bill’s.

“You’ve just created a lot more jobs today,” said another restaurateur.

The Florida Capitol is still closed to the public and state government buildings aren’t fully open yet. Sen. Audrey Gibson, the outgoing Senate Minority Leader, took aim at the Governor.

“If this virus is … little threat to most people, let @GovRonDeSantis be the first to throw open to the public his office and mansion — both of which remain closed thanks to a pandemic he cannot control,” she said in a tweet.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.



    September 25, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    no matter what you do, Ron, those of us with
    any smarts will not vote for the poser president.
    but, he does love the uneducated, so there’s that.

  • Joseph Domino

    September 25, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    Trump’s negligence and resultant deaths of over 200,000 not enough. DeSantis wants to add to the total.

  • Bob

    September 25, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    Hell yeah! We can reopen society and make targeted measures going forward. No reason to the drain society with needless lockdowns.

  • Pat L

    September 25, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    What an idiot. Watch for the spike to occur.

  • Ak

    September 25, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    The expression is “pump the brakes” not “breaks”.

  • Meri

    September 25, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    According to the experts Herd Immunity will kill millions and for what? Because you gotta get a beer? It failed miserably in Sweden. God help us all.

    • Davion

      September 25, 2020 at 4:02 pm

      You can stay home and live in fear if you would like

      • James Robert Miles

        September 25, 2020 at 4:30 pm

        There is a second wave coming that will be worse than the first, kut look at Europe. PLEASE, do us all a favor, go out mingle and DON’t WEAR A MASK! The human race needs a boost in the intelligence level of the gene pool!

        • Mike

          September 26, 2020 at 5:04 pm

          We will all be fine.

          Hide with your mask, slave. As you are already a slave in your mind.

  • Booner

    September 25, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Mr Skull and Bones Ron DeSantis has no problem with any action to make the public less safe with Covid-19 as he has always been in favor of anything to cull the population of all the useless eaters who will die anyway.

    The authoritarian and extreme mandate of Skull & Bones Society is real and our governor has already, in effect, pledged to support the stated goals of S&B over the Florida constitution.

    We don’t need ignorant elite politicians like DeSantis in office. He will not hesitate to carry out the wishes of his secret society because they have him by the short hairs.

    People of Florida need to be reminded that DeSantis is controlled by extreme elements over and above any loyalty to our nation. His decisions reflect his aberrant beliefs.

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    September 25, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Gov DeMAGA may order businesses to open and no mask requirements, but I will NOT go in.

    • Davion

      September 25, 2020 at 4:03 pm

      Go back to new york

    • Leanne DeCoste

      September 28, 2020 at 10:41 pm

      @DisplacedCTYankee – That is how is should be- if you CHOOSE not to go in because of your health worries.. Don’t. But your self-prognosis does not overrule someone else’s self-prognosis that disagrees with yours – especially when the data science medical experts and professionals also disagree with the narratives that have been put out for public fear mongering consumption.

  • Joe Fatala

    September 25, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    I have a source for some really cheap caskets, desantis. Let me know because you’re really gonna need them.

  • Davion

    September 25, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Thank god we have a conservative leader in Florida and not the crack head that was cheating on his wife with a dude.

    “15 days to slow the spread” has turned into 6 months of abuse of our civil liberties. Those who feel they are in a high risk category can and should stay home. Why do otherwise healthy individuals need to sacrifice have their personal lives, businesses, and mental health for a disease with a very small death rate, and even smaller if you remove those over 75. Facts over fear

    Liberal logic, make all speed limits 10mph, we will save thousands of lives!!

    • James Robert Miles

      September 25, 2020 at 4:34 pm

      PLEASE go out and don’t wear a mask! One less GOP idiot will help us all!

  • Valerie Sprieser

    September 25, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    Desantis wants kill off more Floridians and spread death by visiting tourists to more states through his dangerous executive order!
    He’s an idiot ! You cannot get the economy back until you fight the virus! He will only kill more people! People will be fearful and not go out and spend money! Desantis has blood on his hands!
    He is a murderer! Desantis is death! 👹💀

  • Shea O'Neil

    September 25, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Desantis’ Phase 3 is like Scar letting the hyenas into the Pridelands.


    September 26, 2020 at 6:20 am

    This post іѕ invaluable. When can I find oᥙt morе?

  • underground

    September 26, 2020 at 9:32 am

    DeSantis continues ignoring all the medical and economic evidence.

    People will die, the economy will suffer, and Republicans get to virtue signal how much they hate science and evidence-based policy.

  • Polskie Blogi Finansowe

    September 26, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Michał Pałka skupił się na własnym blogu na


    September 26, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    І wanted to visit and let yоu know how really Ӏ valued discovering уⲟur website today.
    I’d personally ⅽonsider іt a real honor to wοrk at my office and Ьe аble to utilize the tips shared on yoᥙr web page аnd aⅼsߋ participate in visitors’ reviews ⅼike thіs.
    Shouⅼd a position ߋf guest article author beсome on offer at your end, i highly recommend
    yoս lеt mе knoԝ.

  • T Rood

    September 26, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    After 7+ months, people know what to do to stay healthy. It’s just 3 things. Distance. Hand sanitization. Sense of humor !!!

    And they will do it more regularly of their own volition rather than when being forced.



    September 26, 2020 at 9:08 pm

    Thanks for finally writing about > Gov. DeSantis removes COVID-19 restaurants rules, masks penalties and more < Loved it!

  • Sonja Fitch

    September 27, 2020 at 6:10 am

    Duffus Desantis is hell bent on killing more Floridians ! Brainwashed and braindead Desantis is a walking talking puppet of goptrump cult leader Trump!

  • sexo amador

    September 27, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Very good post. I’m going through many of these issues as well..


    September 27, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Thiѕ piece оf writing wіll assist tһe internet users for building up new blog or even а weblog from start to end.

  • Betty Nilson

    October 1, 2020 at 1:08 am

    Listen to all the fear mongering trolls on here. It’s like hearing “I am scared to walk across the street I might get hit by a car, so you can’t walk across the street either!” Did you hear the facts from the CDC? If you are under the age of 69 you literally have almost 0% chance of dying from this (not a pandemic) 200k deaths in a country of 350 million does not qualify as one.

    7k people die a day in this country under normal circumstances, 50k a week, 100k every 2 weeks, and 200k a month. We have shut are country down because 200k people have died in 6 months from Covid (not really they lied about all the numbers) something that happens every month normally. Enough of this pandemocrat HOAX! God bless Governor DeSantis. NEVER VOTE DEMOCRAT IF YOU WANT LIFE LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!

  • Kraig

    October 4, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    I planned a trip to the keys when I heard that the Governor lifted all restrictions. I’m down here now and I’m catching static for not wearing a stupid mask. These mask are not doing a damn thing. If you feel better wearing one go ahead but let’s allow the freedom for others who don’t believe in your “science”.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704