Gyms to reopen, restaurants to increase capacity to 50% Monday under ‘full phase 1’ reopening

ORLANDO, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis provided more details Friday of the state’s reopening.

DeSantis announced that the state is transitioning into a “full Phase 1” beginning May 18. With the transition, gyms will be able to reopen. Restaurants and retailers will also be able to open at 50% capacity by adhering to safety protocols.

Bars, will have to wait until phase 2, but there is no timeline.

Read: Publix expands store hours, eliminates designated shopping hours for seniors and first responders

Museums and libraries will be able to open at 50 percent capacity as well at the discretion of local governments.

Phase 1 initially allowed restaurants and retail stores to reopen with certain limitations and also allowed hospitals to start elective surgeries again.

The governor later allowed hair and nail salons to reopen their doors.

Read: Theme parks push for reopening during Phase 2

Many gyms in Central Florida sent out letters during the week announcing the possible reopening date of May 18.

After being closed for nearly two months, Kaci Line, who owns Mighty Girls Fitness in Baldwin Park, said she’s ready to get back to business on Monday.

“We’ve been hurting,” Line said. “We’re a brand new business. We opened this year, and fitness business takes a lot of time to come out of the hole. We weren’t out of our hole yet and then we just got put back in.”

Line said she’s continued outdoor classes with social distancing and nine or fewer people to keep the business afloat.

But Line said Monday will serve as almost a second grand opening. This time, with new social distancing policies in place.

She said every person will assigned their own spot marked on the floor, and all equipment will be used by them and then cleaned. She said there will be no sharing of equipment.

“We are also requiring everyone to wear their street shoes take them off at the door and put on a new pair of in-studio shoes only,” Line said.

The governor did not announced reopening plans for bars or movie theaters.

Roger Wall, the owner of Embassy Irish Bar in downtown Orlando, said he’s disappointed by that.

“To be honest, its quite unfair and it makes no sense,” Wall said.

He said bars have the same abilities to sanitize and socially distance customers as restaurants do.

He said if their forced closure continues he and other bar owners may be forced to close their doors for good.

DeSantis announced Thursday that Broward and Miami-Dade counties would be moving into Phase 1 after initially being some of the hardest hit counties in Florida with COVID-19. The governor cited the counties’ falling numbers as a reason to move forward.

The reaction was met with mixed results by Orlando residents.

“We went out for morther’s day and we were perfectly fine,” Tonya Wagner said.

“I don’t think we’re going to be stepping into those places,” Katicha Martinez said.

Orange County leaders launched a survey aimed at measuring consumer confidence. So far, more than 6,500 people have filled it out.

According to the survey, 63% of people are more likely to shop in a store or dine at a restaurant that makes both employees and patrons wear masks at all times, 54% are more likely to shop or dine at a place that conducts temperature checks and 55% would attend a gathering of more than 50 people if all safety and health precautions were taken.

Click here to fill out the survey.

Counties can also apply to the state to allow vacation rentals.

The governor also said that theme parks will be able to eventually reopen if they submit a plan that is approved by their county.

Steve Barrett

Steve Barrett, WFTV.com

Reporter Steve Barrett returned to WFTV in mid-2017 after 18 months in the Twin Cities, where he worked as Vice President of Communications for an Artificial Intelligence software firm aligned with IBM.

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