Florida just keeps gambling when it comes to the coronavirus. One of the earliest states to reopen since the start of the pandemic — and then roll back that reopening after a predictable surge in cases — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Friday, September 25th that, effective immediately, the state would be entering Phase 3 of its reopening plan which would lift all capacity restrictions on restaurants and businesses, allowing hotels and bars across the state to open at full capacity.
Gov DeSantis notes that while all restrictions have been lifted, bars and businesses may operate between 50% and 100% capacity if they can provide justification for why they need to do so as well as identify the costs involved with not opening to full capacity. Since September 10th, bars in the state have been operating at 50% capacity. Phase 3 also works to suspend localities from collecting the fines and fees related to COVID-19 restrictions according to Politico, which essentially ends any penalties Florida residents might face for not complying with local mask ordinances, meaning Florida is going back to a way of living not seen since before March 2020.
JUST IN: Gov. Ron DeSantis is banning all penalties for those who do not wear a mask in public or ignore social distancing.
— Travis Akers (@travisakers) September 25, 2020
We have repeatedly looked to @GovRonDeSantis to show us what not do when responding to COVID-19.
Today, he approved full capacity indoor dining.
To all the other 49 governors, please lead with sanity and do the opposite. It is reckless and will result in more avoidable deaths
— Vin Gupta “😷!” MD (@VinGuptaMD) September 25, 2020
Coronavirus is voting for Ron DeSantis in 2022.
— Amy (@Ordinary1World) September 25, 2020
Alarmingly, when you look at the COVID-19 data coming out of the state, this looks like action taken way too soon. NBC News reports that as of Friday, September 25th, 2020 the state had a count of nearly 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, making it the third hardest-hit state in the country with the fifth-highest death rate with a total of 13,914 deaths.
Florida activist Emma González tweeted what many were thinking when she wrote: