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Re-Open Florida Task Force report charts ‘road map’ to post-pandemic recovery, beyond phase one

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A health worker conducts COVID-19 tests at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site Tuesday, April 21, 2020, in Sanford, Fla. John Raoux / AP

By John Haughey | The Center Square

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office Thursday published the Re-Open Task Force report, which lays out a three-phase “road map” for the state’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

DeSantis Wednesday announced phase one of the reopening would begin Monday to be followed by a sequence of relaxed measures, but did not spell out specific timelines or discuss what ensuing phases would look like in his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” plan.

Thursday afternoon, the picture became clearer with the posting of task force’s 32-page report, gleaned from a week of teleconferences by four industry groups.

Phase two, according to the report, should begin after “a downward trajectory of the syndromic and epidemiology criteria while maintaining adequate health care capacity.”

A primary metric will be the “positivity” of test results. Rather than gauging progress by declining case numbers, as the Trump administration’s Opening Up America Again plan does, Florida will use declines in the percentage of positive test results as its metric.

Under phase two, “nonessential” travel can resume and employers should “encourage teleworking where practical” and plan “for employees to return to work in phases.” Other components include:

  • Social gatherings: Avoid socializing in groups of more than 50 people “in circumstances that do not allow for appropriate social distancing of at least 6 feet.”
  • Employee screening: All employers should screen employees before entering workplaces for COVID-19 symptoms or influenza-like illness and, “where practical, take the temperature of each employee.”
  • Local government meetings: Tele/video-conferencing is encouraged but in-person meetings can resume within social distancing protocols with no more than 50 in attendance.
  • Bars: Bars can reopen at 50-percent capacity “with an emphasis on diminished standing room capacity and prioritizing outdoor service.”

The plan suggests owners space tables at least 6 feet apart; not allow coupling of tables or table groups of 10 or more; encourage orders be taken by wait staff at tables rather than at the bar; clean, disinfect all surfaces after each use.

Restaurants: Restaurants can operate at full outdoor capacity and 75-percent capacity inside, with a minimum of 6 feet separating parties

Menus, if laminated, should be cleaned after each use with single-use paper menus recommended.

“Avoid cafeteria-style dining arrangements,” the report states. “If salad bars or buffets are utilized, efforts to mitigate risk should include barriers to block virus spread.”

Gyms: Gyms can operate at 75-percent capacity and resume indoor group sessions/classes if they meet social distancing protocols.

State parks/beaches: All state parks will be open for daytime use. Overnight accommodations, pavilions, interpretive programs will remain closed. Large groups not permitted. Beaches “should be fully open.”

Large venues: Movie theaters, concert halls, auditoriums, bowling alleys, arcades, playhouses and casinos can open under “strict social distancing protocols” at 75-percent capacity.

Sporting events/theme parks: Spectator capacity should be limited to 50-percent with strict social distancing. Theme parks “may consider re-opening with capacity limits, strict social distancing and proper measures to clean and disinfect,” the report suggests.

Vacation rentals: Vacation rentals should be allowed only for Florida residents to “prohibit rentals to persons traveling internationally or from a state or locality with a substantial community spread of COVID-19,” the report states.

The task force recommends 72 hours between guest check-ins to allow for cleaning and disinfecting of units.

Personal services: Salons, barber shops and nail salons should limit occupancy to 75 percent and not allow customers to congregate in waiting areas.

All employees should wear face masks, cloth face coverings and other PPE, and businesses should encourage customers to wear face masks or cloth face coverings.

Owners should remove “frequent-touch items” such as magazines, newspapers.

Retailers: Stores can operate at 75-percent capacity with signage directing “flow of customers within the premises to promote social distancing.”

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