Update 2:30 p.m.: In a press conference later in the day, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an order that folds Palm Beach County into phase one of his reopening plan. Restaurants and businesses in Palm Beach County may reopen as of Monday, May 11, provided they follow the guidelines DeSantis laid out April 29. Palm Beach beaches are scheduled to open May 18.
Original story follows:
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez says he's targeting May 18 as the date to begin reopening restaurant dining rooms in Miami-Dade County.
In a video press conference held early this afternoon, Giménez mentioned the mid-May target date as a time to "start opening sectors of the economy."
Giménez said he'd spoken with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who agrees Miami-Dade should begin to pull back on the closures that have been in place since the middle of March. "There is a light at the end of the tunnel," the mayor said, adding that Broward County will likely reopen in a similar timeframe.
Giménez was hesitant to provide many details, including what businesses might be allowed to reopen and what restrictions would be placed on them. "I want to make sure that seniors and at-risk persons are protected," he said.
He did not specifically address the food industry until WMEN (640-AM) sports-talk host Andy Slater asked whether restaurants and professional sports are likely to be part of the initial wave of reopenings. Giménez replied that restaurants would likely be included but that he has not held any discussions with Miami's Major League Baseball club. (MLB's internal discussions, including input from the White House coronavirus task force, are ongoing.)
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Giménez said the decision to reopen was reached with input from local businesses and professionals from the Florida Department of Health, Florida International University, the University of Miami, and Jackson Health System.
He noted that the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 is at its lowest since April 4, the day he ordered medical facilities to begin reporting those figures but cautioned that the May 18 target would be subject to change based on what transpires in the days to come.
This past Monday, Governor DeSantis ordered that restaurants in Florida be allowed to reopen their dining rooms but specifically exempted Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. The governor's order, based on guidelines recently issued by the White House, permitted dining rooms to open at 25 percent capacity and with outdoor seating that allows for six feet of space between tables. Physical-distancing rules remain in effect, with facemasks recommended. Groups of ten or more are prohibited, and bars remain closed.