June 7, 2020 - 3 months of COVID
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It's been 3 months of living with COVID and all the effects it has had on our lives. There are varying degrees of how hard it has hit some, while barely affecting others. There is even conspiracy theories that the virus isn't real. But it is and it is a global pandemic that has not only affected Floridians and Americans, but everyone in the world. How we have dealt with it and are dealing with it as we move forward are going to define us in many ways.
With reopenings happening across the state, there are many mixed feelings among Floridians. Businesses are excited to reopen and people are excited to be able to get back out and do things while at the same time, many do not want to just yet and want to stay safe in their homes.
The Mask Debate
To wear a mask or not wear a mask, that is the question.
While some people think that because of contradictory advice over the course of this virus, as to whether the masks work or not, it is not necessary. Please keep in mind that this virus is new and new evidence and tests are being run everyday to try to learn about it and determine the best preventive measures.
We are listening to the health experts who say WEAR A MASK and urging those who are going back out into the world and to the reopening of places, to please wear a mask. While we are all ready to start living our normal lives again, it will be hard to do if the virus spreads badly again and things have to shut down again. Isn't it easier to just wear a mask? It is not just your life you need to worry about. Let's show that, as Floridians, we care about other peoples lives and keep our masks on.
Florida has been opening up in phases. It is not clear on how this makes a difference, but nothing about this virus has been clear. You can read the document on re-opening phases directly from the Florida Re-Open Task Force.
During phase 1, which started on May 4th, Restaurants and stores were allowed to reopen with limited capacities and following social distancing guidelines. Gyms, fitness centers and daycares were allowed to re-open ahead of phase 2 provided they remain at 50% capacity, follow social distancing procedures, and stick to strict cleaning and sanitation protocols.
Phase 2, which started on Friday, June 5th, allows movie theaters, bars, bowling alleys and concert halls to open with limited capacity and social distancing guidelines. The number of people allowed in social gatherings increased from 10 to 50 and non-essential travel may resume. This phase does not apply to the 3 hardest hit south Florida counties, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, which remain on stricter guidelines.
All businesses in Florida that are open to the public must follow the social distancing guidelines and businesses such as gyms, hotels, campgrounds, vacation rentals are required to implement sanitation procedures.
Restaurants are opening their dining areas with limited capacity, can now allow bar-top seating, and can open for outdoor seating with no limits on capacity as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.
Retail Stores and Gyms can now operate at full capacity with social distancing protocols.
Public Schools have not made decisive decisions on openings for the fall.
Colleges are keeping it virtual over the summer and public colleges, as well as many private colleges in Florida have announced they will be reopening in the fall. Each college is working on individual plans for limiting lecture halls and social gatherings, re-designing dorm rooms and taking other measures to keep students as safe as possible in a campus setting.
Daycares and summer camps have been re-opening with limited class sizes.
Personal service businesses such as salons have been allowed to open at 25% capacity since phase 1 and can increase the capacity in phase 2. Other personal services can also begin opening and booking appointments in phase 2.
State parks are reopening but some communal areas such as playgrounds and overnight facilities are not open in some areas. Check with the Florida State Parks website for openings.
Beaches are allowed to fully open with no social distancing guidelines. Some city beaches are still closed so check with your local city departments for openings.
Large Venues and Sporting Events such as movie theaters, concert halls, arcades, arenas and theme parks can re-open at 50% capacity with a social distancing protocol.
June 1: Legoland has made masks optional for guests and required for employees.
June 5: Universal opened to passholders early on Wednesday and Thursday and to the general public on Friday, June 5th. This includes Universal Studios, Island of Adventure and Volcano Bay. All employees and guests will undergo temperature checks before entering the parks. Masks are mandatory for guests.
June 11: Busch Gardens Tampa, Adventure Island, SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove
Disney Springs opened up in mid-May and Disney World Parks will be re-opening in July.
July 11: Magic Kingdom, Disney's Animal Kingdom
July 15: Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios
The Florida Keys removed it's checkpoints on Monday, June 1st, that has only allowed residents in since March 22nd. Most hotels will be operating at 50% capacity.
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Remember to check the Florida Health Department website daily to stay up to date on the coronavirus.