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Florida transitions to Full Phase 1 plan to reopen

Posted at 7:39 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 09:39:40-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla -- As Southwest Florida works to rebound from the coronavirus crisis, we'll see a number of businesses open doors for the first time in months on Monday. Many others will also be able to start welcoming more customers through their doors.

Starting Monday, gyms and fitness centers can begin the process of reopening. For months they had to keep doors closed, with many struggling to survive by way of offering online workouts to its clients in quarantine. They can now operate at up to 50% capacity. Machines and surfaces must be self-sanitized after each use.

Restaurants and retail stores have already been operating at 25% capacity under the governor's initial Phase 1 plan to reopen. They can now move to 50%.

Outdoor seating is still encouraged at restaurants, and social distancing between tables remains a must.

Museums and libraries are also allowed to move to 50%.

Florida's transition to its Full Phase 1 plan to reopen means the counties previously excluded from Phase 1 (Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Broward) are now included.

Yet, for a number of other businesses the journey toward rebounding will be a bit slower. One group of businesses noticeably left from the list are bars. Many we've spoken with over the last few weeks tell us this only makes their path toward surviving and rebounding more uncertain.

“I don’t see why I can go to dinner and sit at a restaurant, but not have 10 people in my establishment,” said Cassandra Amato, owner of CJ’s Tavern and Liquor Store in Punta Gorda.

Even though some things slated to open during Phase 2 are already reopening, bars, pubs, and nightclubs still have to wait until completion of Phase 1 and a consistent drop in cases of COVID-19.

In addition to bars, movie theaters remain closed.

Fox 4 is working to confirm a timeline for Phase 2, for those who won't be able to open their doors on Monday.

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