TALLAHASSEE – Bars and restaurants are no longer required to operate at less than full capacity, as Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday removing all remaining restrictions on businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the executive order, which takes effect immediately, also prohibits local governments from closing businesses or collecting fines related to pandemic-related mandates, such as mask requirements.
“We are today moving into what we initially called phase 3,” DeSantis said during a press conference in St. Petersburg. “And what that’ll mean for the restaurants is there will not be limitations from the state of Florida.”
“We’re also saying in the state of Florida everybody has a right to work,” he added. “(Local governments) can do reasonable regulations but they can’t just say no.”
There are four major provisions of the order:
-It removes all remaining state-level restrictions on businesses, including on bars and restaurants, which were capped at 75% capacity in Phase 3 of DeSantis’ original reopening plan.
-It provides a general right to work and to operate a business. Local governments can limit and regulate businesses, but won’t be able to close businesses because of coronavirus concerns.
-Local governments won’t be able to prevent restaurants from operating at below 50% capacity. Under previous orders, local governments could go further than state-level restrictions, and counties in South Florida kept restaurants and bars closed after the state allowed them to reopen. Also, cities and counties won’t be able to impose any restrictions without an economic and health justification.
-Cities and counties can’t collect on any outstanding fines they issued as part of their pandemic response. The order, though, doesn’t compel local governments to refund anyone who has already paid a fine.
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