Florida governor announces restaurants can operate at full capacity, effective immediately

Posted at 2:40 PM, Sep 25, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis announced Florida will enter Phase 3 of reopening the state's economy.

Effective immediately, Gov. DeSantis announced Friday in his press conference in St. Petersburg that restaurants and select businesses can operate at full capacity.

Phase 3 of Gov. DeSantis' "SAFE. SMART. STEP-BY-STEP PLAN" ensures Floridians that restaurants can reopen at a minimum 50% capacity if the local government prohibits them from reopening at full capacity.

“Everybody has an opportunity and the right to work. Every business has the right to operate,” said Gov. DeSantis said.

With Phase 3, Gov. DeSantis said he will no longer place limitations on businesses due to coronavirus concerns.

"There will not be limitations from the state of Florida," Gov. DeSantis said.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) President and CEO Carol Dover said the pandemic has caused 336,000 people in the industry to lose their jobs.

“The effects on the local and state economy have been significant. I want to thank Governor DeSantis and DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears for their support as we have navigated this unprecedented time and for allowing us the opportunity to get back to work,” Dover said in a press release.

The announcement comes just days after bars and breweries were allowed to reopen in Florida.

Florida's top business regulator Halsey Beshears announced just 15 days ago that the state is rescinding Executive Order 20-09. The executive order, issued earlier in the summer, suspended bars from serving alcohol on their premises.

Gov. DeSantis said if the local government wants to keep businesses from reopening at a minimum of 50% capacity, they must make their case to the state on why they want to place the restrictions and identify the costs involved.

Gov. DeSantis also announced on Friday that he’s suspending all fines and penalties against people accused of not wearing masks.

FRLA is expected to unveil Gov. DeSantis' executive order on rolling out Phase 3 sometime Friday night.

This story was first reported by KJ Hiramoto at WFTS in Tampa, Florida.