Florida Begins Phase 2 Reopening Same Day It Registers Most New Virus Cases Since mid-April

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday Florida bars, bowling alleys and theme parks will be part of the next phase of reopening

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Universal Studios Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Orlando, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Universal Studios Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Orlando, Fla.Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux

Florida bars, bowling alleys and theme parks will be part of the next phase of reopening the state in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, Florida had more than 58,700 coronavirus cases and more than 2,500 related deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Wednesday’s total of  1,317 new cases is Florida’s largest since April 17, when it had a daily total of 1,413 new cases. 

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DeSantis made his announcement at Universal Orlando Resort, which opened to passholders for Wednesday and Thursday, and will open to the public on Friday.

“Amusement parks — we’re here right now — we wanted them to work with their local governments to submit plans,” DeSantis said. “Universal did a great job, had a great plan, and I think as you’ve seen, they’re taking safety very seriously to keep their guests safe.”

Friday is also the day where Phase 2 of the reopening will begin, with bars allowed to open at 50% capacity with social distancing and sanitation.

“You’re seated to get served. People go, enjoy, have a drink, that’s fine, We want to kind of not have huge crowds piling in,” DeSantis said.

Phase 2 applies to 64 of Florida’s 67 counties. The hardest hit — Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — will have to submit plans for the next step in their reopening.

Florida allowed restaurants and retail shops to open at 25% capacity on May 4 and expanded that later in the month.

Movie theaters, bowling alleys and pari-mutuel betting facilities also have a path to reopen if they submit a plan for social distancing and sanitizing, DeSantis said.

In Orlando, crosstown rival, SeaWorld Orlando, plans to open its parks next week, and Walt Disney World will start a phased reopening of its parks next month.

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