FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Officials in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are coordinating efforts to potentially reopen the county on Monday, pending approval from the governor.
Officials from both counties spoke on the phone, Tuesday afternoon, to discuss reopening plans. Each county will submit its own plan to the office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his final approval.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mayor Dale Holness and members of the Broward County Commission held a virtual workshop Tuesday where they discussed the plan to enter into phase 1.
Commissioners at the workshop said, as the county enters phase 1, they would like to give local businesses an opportunity to have a head start this weekend, if possible.
“I would love to be able to figure out a way to give the restaurants, if we’re going to go and let them open on Monday, to figure out a way to let them open on Saturday this week,” said Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine.
“We’re looking to open barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, retail, restaurants,” said Holness.
Under the proposed plan, restaurants in the county would be allowed to open up at 25% indoor capacity, while outdoor guests would be required to sit 6 feet apart.
Restaurant staff along Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale were hard at work ensuring the businesses comply with safety guidelines.
“Every 10 feet we have a sanitizer station, in and out, hand sanitizers everywhere,” said Paul Greenberg, the owner of American Social. “We’re going to have our staff in masks and gloves. Our staff at the back of the house, same thing: masks, gloves.”
Retail businesses and museums would also be allowed to operate at 25% indoor capacity, with restrictions and limitations.
“There is much discussion about doing it at 50%,” said Holness.
“I would love to figure out a way to give them 50% floor space, because I think, at 50%, they can give these businesses a fighting chance,” said Udine.
Community and club pools will be allowed to operate at up to 50% capacity, while personal services like haircuts and nail salons would have to operate by appointment.
However, some commissioners warned that although there has been a downward trajectory on hospitalizations, COVID-19 is still very much alive and active in the community.
“I am very concerned about opening up too soon,” said Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich.
The plan does not allow beaches, gyms or movie theaters to reopen for the time being.
“We need to get out to the public, don’t let your guard down just because we’re opening up,” said Broward County Commissioner Mark Bogen
County Administrator Bertha Henry said Broward is coordinating with Miami-Dade and said the county would reimplement limitations should the virus see a resurgence.
“I want to make sure there’s the least amount of confusion possible,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “Our new motto is, ‘I protect you, you protect me,’ and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
The use of facial coverings and social distancing will remain in place, but Gimenez said it’s time to reopen.
“I look at hospitalizations. I look at how many people are in the hospital, how many people need ventilators, what’s the capacity of our health system to cover,” he said. “We have well over 3,000 empty hospital room beds. We have over 900 empty ventilators. As a matter of fact, the use of ventilators is starting to decrease and decrease.”
Back on Las Olas, business owners said they hope things will look a lot different this time next week.
Greenberg said he’s scheduled a deep sanitation for his restaurant this week so they’ll be ready to go as soon as they’re approved to reopen.
“We’ll always be a step ahead,” he said.
Miami-Dade and Broward are the only counties in Florida that have not yet entered into phase 1 of the state’s plan to reopen.
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