Businesses in the Sunshine State are closer to normal than they’ve been since March after Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the state into Phase 3 of his Reopening plan Friday.
The Governor appeared on Fox News Channel Friday night with Laura Ingraham, where he was presented with criticism from CNN’s Sanjay Gupta about the state’s decision to increase restaurant capacity.
DeSantis’ take is that such criticism stems from those who are “ignorant about Florida.”
“We never closed down over the summer,” DeSantis said. “He was talking about the Sunbelt Spike. We actually had, of course, beaches, theme parks, retail operating at 100%. We had sports, summer camps over the summer. We have over 1.1 million students in face-to-face instruction for K-12. We have college students that are on campus. We’ve had big events, college football with fans. NFL football with fans. We had a NASCAR race with 30,000 people.”
“So we’ve been open. The final piece of the puzzle was this capacity limitation on restaurants at 50%. And so that was the announcement … kind of brought that in for a landing.”
DeSantis thinks the ultimate impact of the move to Phase 3 will be “good for jobs” and allows for situations where “an individual can make decisions for what’s right for them.”
The idea, the Governor told Ingraham, is that people would be “free to choose.”
As part of his reopening plan, the Governor barred cities and counties from collecting fines on people who violate social distancing rules or don’t wear face masks. The governor’s order virtually nullifies local ordinances put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
DeSantis also took issue with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has advocated a national standard for mask wearing and corona-caution.
“Lockdowns should be off the table,” DeSantis said, noting a now familiar argument that they “exacerbate” other social problems.
Florida has long been a COVID-19 hotspot, with nearly 700,000 confirmed virus cases since the pandemic began in March. Nearly 14,000 Floridians have died.
DeSantis reluctantly closed bars and nightclubs on St. Patrick’s Day due to the outbreak, and days later, restricted restaurants to takeout dining. Amusement parks ground to a halt.
The closures battered the economy, leaving hundreds of thousands of Floridians unemployed. Since March 15, More than 2.5 million Floridians have sought unemployment benefits.
DeSantis slowly reopened the state for business since then, allowing restaurants and bars to reopen at half capacity, while deferring to local officials who advocated reopening more slowly in the pandemic’s epicenters in South Florida.