DeSantis announces Phase 3 re-opening plan, restrictions on restaurants lifted

“We will not be at 100 percent capacity no matter what,” Gainesville restaurant owner JD Chester said in response to the announcement.
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 9:11 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida is now entering phase three of the governor’s re-opening plan.

Friday in St. Petersburg Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that limitations previously placed on restaurants and businesses due to COVID-19, will no longer be enforced.

On March 9, Gov. DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency leading to the closure of several businesses, but now that has changed.

As part of phase three, no COVID-19 emergency order may prevent someone from working or operating a business.

The executive order DeSantis signed Friday would also over rule restrictions put into place by local municipalities.

During his announcement, he said these businesses shouldn’t have to suffer any longer.

“But now people are saying, hey even if there’s a vaccine it’s still going to take another year before you can operate appropriately and I don’t think that’s viable. I don’t think that is acceptable and so I think that this will be very very important to the industry and it also will be a recognition that they have worked as hard as anybody to create safe environments,” Gov. DeSantis said.

For restaurants, they can not be made to operate at less than 50 percent of their indoor capacity - and if a restaurant is limited to less than 100 percent of its indoor capacity by a city or county, that municipality must explain why the requirement is necessary for public health and the economic impact of the limitation.

JD Chester owns Downtown Fats, Fat Daddy’s, the Rowdy Reptile, JJ’s Tavern, and the Knockin' Boots Saloon.

He said he plans on playing it safe.

“We will not be at full capacity even though that may be possible. We already had a meeting and decided that there is no way that we were going to expose everybody to what we call standing room only. We will not be at 100 percent capacity no matter what,” Chester said.

The governor’s executive order also suspends the collection of fines and penalties associated with COVID-19.

The order will take effect immediately.

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