DeSantis to Reopen Florida Restaurants May 4 — But Not in Miami or Fort Lauderdale

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr
At 5 p.m. yesterday evening, on the eve of the expiration of his monthlong "Safer at Home" order, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Phase One of his reopening plan for Florida, entitled, "Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step."

Notably, the order does not apply to Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

As part of Phase One, restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to reopen with some restrictions as of Monday, May 4.

Restaurants will be permitted to operate with outdoor seating that allows six feet of space between tables. Indoor dining rooms may reopen at 25 percent capacity. Bars are to remain closed.

Social-distancing rules will remain in effect, and face masks are recommended when social-distancing isn't possible or during face-to-face interactions. Groups of more than 10 are still prohibited.

Gyms, movie theaters, hair salons, and other personal services are to remain closed. Same goes for schools. Visits to senior facilities are prohibited.

Before he laid out his plan, DeSantis channeled Franklin D. Roosevelt, declaring that "the only thing we have to fear is letting fear overwhelm us" and that the biggest obstacle we have is the "fear, doom, and gloom that has permeated our culture." (As opposed to, say, the paucity of available testing for a virus with neither cure nor vaccine, one whose statewide numbers stand at 33,193 confirmed cases and 1,218 deaths.)

According to DeSantis, government officials in southeast Florida mutually agreed that their counties should continue on their own path. (At daybreak Wednesday, marinas, golf courses, and parks got the green light to reopen in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, though the City of Miami and Hialeah abstained, as did Hollywood and Pembroke Pines.)

So far, the only mention of a plan to reopen restaurants in Miami-Dade came from Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy L. Morales, who estimated June 8 as the earliest date to implement the first phase of a proposal to reopen Miami Beach restaurants.

Stephanie Vitori, owner of Cheeseburger Baby, is glad Miami Beach was excluded from DeSantis' order. "As much as I'm hurting, I don't think we should open yet," she says, citing the fact that COVID-19 cases haven't yet reached the benchmark where they've decreased for 14 days straight. "I don't want to open, have a spike in COVID cases, and be set back another ten weeks."

Adds Vitori: "I'm in it every day. I'm at my restaurant. I'm wearing a mask. You don't think I'm scared? We're trying to survive, but to open right now would be crazy."
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss