A day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state will be moving into the third and final phase of its reopening plan, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced how the new phase will affect the county.
DeSantis has now allowed for restaurants to immediately reopen at full capacity and for bars, nightclubs and strip clubs to resume business.
As in all other orders issued by DeSantis, counties are allowed to modify the new changes put in place.
Here is how Florida’s Phase 3 plan will affect South Florida:
How are bars, nightclubs and restaurants operating?
After DeSantis lifted restrictions, Broward County Mayor Dale Holness announced restaurants would be allowed to reopen bar counters, but with new rules.
In Broward, alcohol won’t be served at the counter, customers will need to be six feet apart and plexiglass must be installed. Restaurants will also be seeing some old favorites allowed again like live performances. Masks are still required in restaurants and can only be removed while sitting and eating.
Late Saturday night, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced how the county will be affected by Phase 3.
“Throughout this pandemic, Miami-Dade County has taken measured steps guided by the Centers for Disease Control, the Florida Department of Health and our local medical experts that include epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists,” Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said. “As our infection rates continue to drop below 5 percent and our hospitalizations continue to decline, I am proud of the community’s response in helping tamp down the spread of this virus.”
While restaurants are still mandated to have a 50% capacity limit, establishments that have enough space to accommodate more tables while also keeping a six-foot separation between tables will be allowed to reach 100% capacity.
However, the maximum seating per table indoors or outside continues – no more than six people per table or up to 10 if they are in the same party.
Like in Broward, bars are also allowed to open again. In Miami-Dade, bars that are only counter service will be allowed to reach 50% capacity with seating separated as far as possible.
Clubs that include dancing must require masks be worn on the dance floor. Also, eating and drinking must be confined to tables only.
As in the previous phases, employees and the public will still need to wear masks in all buildings.
What does this mean for sports events?
Gov. DeSantis said Friday he wants to show the NFL that Tampa, scheduled to host the Super Bowl in February, will be safe for fans (and, by implication, the disposable income they’ll bring). And, Saturday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they’ll allow 25% capacity at Raymond James Stadium for their Oct. 18 home game against Green Bay.
The Dolphins allowed 20% capacity of Hard Rock Stadium, 13,000 out of 65,326, for last week’s home opener against Buffalo, and a spokesman said Saturday there would be no change for next week’s home game against Seattle.
Official attendance at Hard Rock Stadium last Sunday: 11,703.
As for what the University of Miami will be doing in regards to sporting events, Director of Athletics Blake James said, “We will continue to evaluate and announce any changes when decisions are made based on direction and guidance from health experts and government officials.’‘
Are curfews still in effect?
There’s still one from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Miami-Dade.
Violators will be cited with a second-degree criminal misdemeanor that has a maximum $500 fine and up to 180 days in jail.
Although DeSantis suspended all fines and penalties for violating the county’s COVID-19 public health orders, Miami-Dade County will continue to issue civil citations to people not wearing masks and will process fines and penalties as permitted.
How are schools changing?
While some Florida businesses have been given clear instructions on what Phase 3 means to them, what this means for education is still up in the air.
A Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson said the state’s reopening guideline says education in Phase 3 is under ongoing considerations.
“We are awaiting guidance from the Department of Education as to what the change in phase will mean for schools,” the spokesperson said. “In the meantime, we will continue to follow CDC guidelines and enforce the use of facial coverings in our schools. There is Board policy on this issue. It is going for final reading in October.”
Broward County Public Schools will vote Oct. 6 whether to open schools also on Oct. 14 only for specific groups of students. The school system has not yet made public how Phase 3 will be affecting them.
Will theme parks be going “back to normal”?
A condition for many major theme parks in Florida to reopen in June and July was to implement many strict safety guidelines.
These guidelines, which include reduced capacity, temperature checks and mandatory checks, have been in effect since each park reopened to the public, even when Universal Orlando Resort reached maximum capacity in its three theme parks on Sept. 19.
Many guests have said on social media that the strict safety guidelines were one of the reasons they felt safe coming back to the park, but under Florida’s Phase 3 plan theme parks no longer have to adhere to most of those guidelines.
The state’s current plan states, “Theme parks may return to normal operations with limited social distancing protocols.”
Although theme parks have been given the OK to roll back protocols, none of publicly said they would.
A spokesperson for Walt Disney World Resort said, “We received the Governor’s executive order and are evaluating it to determine what it may mean for our business. We are not making any immediate changes. As a reminder, face coverings are still required at Walt Disney World Resort.”
A spokesperson for LEGOLAND Florida Resort made a similar statement. LEGOLAND says they will be evolving safety procedures.
“Since our reopening on June 1, LEGOLAND Florida Resort has safely welcomed families to play in our parks and stay in our resorts with enhanced health and safety measures…,” a LEGOLAND spokesperson said. “Our Resort and company leadership will continue to evolve these procedures and capacity management to remain in line with state and local government recommendations so families can continue to have the confidence to play safely at our Resort.”
Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Entertainment did not respond to questions on whether their parks would be changing policies.