By Jason Schaumburg | The Center Square
A couple hours after directing businesses in Broward and Palm Beach counties to close or curtail operations, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis directed all Florida restaurants and food establishments to suspend dine-in operations to combat COVID-19.
The executive order, the third DeSantis issued Friday, allows establishments to operate kitchens for take-out and delivery orders. It also lifts the restriction from a previous executive order that prohibited specially licensed food service establishments from selling package sales of alcohol for delivery, take-out or consumption off-premises.
The order also mandates all gyms and fitness centers to close. The directives are effective immediately and are in place through May 7.
Earlier on Friday, DeSantis directed all movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gymnasiums, fitness studios and beaches to close in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Establishments such as restaurants, bars, pubs and night clubs that serve food were ordered to stop dine-in services.
DeSantis also suspended any Florida statute that "requires a quorum to be present in person or requires a local government body to meet at a specific public place," allowing local governments to meet via telephone or video conferencing.
As of Friday morning, the Florida Department of Health reported 520 cases of COVID-19, including 10 deaths.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease has caused at least 200 deaths in the U.S. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.
Most people who have it develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.