Phase 1 Opening of Florida Businesses Begins May 4th; Restaurants and Retail Reopening with Limited Capacity, Unclear If Any of Walt Disney World Can or Will

After weeks of talks with smaller county-based task force groups, like the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference this afternoon to announce the first phase of the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” Plan for Florida’s Recovery.

Governor Ron DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force Executive Committee included executives like President of Walt Disney World Resort, Josh D’Amaro, and he’s been in talks with health and business leaders to determine the best way to move forward with reopening businesses in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Governor’s new plan, Phase 1 reopenings will begin starting Monday, May 4th. (State-wide reopenings will exclude Miami-Dade, Broward, and West Palm Beach County due to the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in those counties.)

During Phase 1 for Florida, restaurants can reopen, with only outdoor seating (with six feet of space between tables) and indoor seating at 25%. Retail can also operate at 25% of indoor capacity. It’s been determined that it’s too difficult to carry out social distancing in movie theaters, so those venues will remain closed. Bars, gyms, and personal services such as hair dressers will also remain closed. Face masks are recommended for close face-to-face interactions or work, but no fines will be issued to people not wearing masks.

In reference to Walt Disney World, it will be interesting to see what decisions they make regarding reopenings. With malls and retail throughout the rest of Florida returning to operation, it’s possible that Disney Springs, as a restaurant and dining destination, may be able to reopen, albeit with extensive social distancing protocols. We’ll have to see if Disney makes an official announcement in the coming days, but it’s also possible they might skip Phase 1 in total.

All of these guidelines are based on the “Opening Up America Again” three-part phased reopening plan issued by the White House, where Phase 1 is considered the earliest possible reopening time, Phase 2 marks a continued decrease in COVID-19 cases, and Phase 3 would be generally considered a “return to normal.” You can read our full analysis of the new guidelines here.

Walt Disney World Resort remains closed indefinitely, and no official reopening date has been identified.

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