Florida Enters Phase 3 Reopening, Local Governments Must Prove Need for Further Restrictions

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Florida Enters Phase 3 Reopening, Local Governments Must Prove Need for Further Restrictions:

All businesses opening, County maintains curfew

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis yesterday announced the State would enter Phase 3 of its COVID-19 reopening plan but this executive order is different than previously issued orders which gave local governments wide latitude to implement stricter rules. 

The Phase 3 order which allows all businesses to reopen effective immediately also limits local powers. With regard to dining establishments, it states “Restaurants, including any establishment with a food service license, may not be limited by a COVID-19 emergency order by any local government to less than fifty percent (50%) of their indoor capacity.” 

Further, “If a restaurant is limited to less than one hundred percent (100%) of its indoor capacity,” by any local orders, those orders must “quantify the economic impact of each limitation or requirement on those restaurants” and “explain why each limitation or requirement is necessary for public health.”

The order also “suspends the collection of fines and penalties associated with COVID-19 enforced upon individuals” including fines for not complying with mask mandates.

Shortly after Desantis’ order, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a brief statement on what this means for Miami-Dade County:

  1. The state will be in Phase 3 and all state restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted. However, this does not preclude the County from having its own rules, as approved by the state.

  2. All businesses may reopen, but the County can still impose guidelines and protocols.

  3. All restaurants, regardless of the size of their interior spaces, will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

  4. Civil citations issued for violation of the mandatory mask order are suspended.

“My staff and I are consulting with the County Attorney’s Office regarding the enforcement of the mask mandate at businesses. We want to ensure compliance with the state order, while also continuing to act in the best interests of our community,” Gimenez said.

“Please note that the County curfew remains in place from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. We will continue to update residents and businesses on any further changes.”

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber who has been increasingly critical of DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic came out swinging on CNN after DeSantis’ latest order.

“It’s pretty obvious this was a political decision," Gelber said. "It was clearly not intended to protect residents or even our economy. I think our Governor has always tried to be as much like President Trump as possible and I think he’s trying to follow his game plan when it comes to dealing with the virus which is just to ignore mainstream science and mainstream doctors and to go his own way, I think, to the great detriment of our residents.”

“He refuses to have the mask mandate and, I think, what he’s about to do is not even allow us to require people to wear masks where we’ve asked them to,” Gelber said. “For the life of me, I don’t know why he has politicized this but it’s very obvious to me that he has.”

When asked what his message would be to residents and visitors, a frustrated Gelber said, “Wear the damn mask. Just wear it. Whether we fine you or give you a free one, you’re going to have to go back to your community. There are people there you may infect. Just do the right thing.”

“We can open our economy up, but we have to do it smartly and cautiously,” he added. “I guess the Governor has just followed Trump’s lead which has been to just say ‘Forget it. We’re going to have rallies and we’re going to tell everybody they can do whatever they want.'”

To the Governor, he said, “Stop politicizing this, really. People are dying. They’re somebody’s mother or daughter or spouse or best friend or co-worker. Real people are dying… We can open up our economy. Tell people to wear the mask. Don’t worry what President Trump is going to think. Tell them to do it. People can still go to a restaurant with a mask. They can go shopping with a mask. Make it mandatory and people will be healthier.”

Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, a critic of Gelber’s stricter stance throughout the crisis, retweeted Gelber’s CNN appearance with the comment, “One man’s personal opinion. He’s run the city like a personal fiefdom.”


In another tweet, Arriola wrote, “This why @GovRonDeSantis has overruled the counties. We are full of sh*t. If we were more reasonable in our approach, he wouldn’t need such a heavy hand.”


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