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Florida Restaurants And Bars Open At Full Capacity Despite Rising Virus Cases

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has decided to lift restrictions on all restaurants, bars, and hotels at full capacity as the state moves into Phase 3 of reopening.

According to NBC News, on Friday DeSantis announced that businesses will be reopened immediately at full capacity, despite the state's recent increase in reported COVID-19 cases.

Since the outbreak began, Florida has been considered to be one of the country's virus hotspots.

Unsplash | Mika Baumeister

As of writing, the state has reported nearly 700,000 positive cases and over 14,000 deaths. However, DeSantis has downplayed the virus' impact in Florida, and hit back at the "doom and gloom" media that's blamed him for the state's slow response.

"A lot has been done to promote fear," the governor said last week, as per NBC News. "We haven't seen an explosion of new cases.

On Friday, the state officially transitioned into Phase 3, allowing restaurants and bars to immediately resume operating at 100% capacity.

Unsplash | Victor He

As per the order from DeSantis, local governments are strictly prohibited from restricting these business operations, unless they are able to justify the economic repercussions of doing so.

“There will not be limitations,” the governor said Friday. “They can operate at a minimum of 50 percent regardless of local rule and then, if a local restricts between 50 and 100 [percent], they’ve got to provide the justification and they’ve got to identify what the costs involved with doing that are.”

DeSantis also said businesses will not be forced to immediately start operating at full capacity, but will have the ability to do so if desired.

Unsplash | Hanson Lu

“If you want to go beyond the 50, you can authorize and do it,” he said. “We’re not telling you you have to, but we’re not going to stand in the way of that, so that’ll be a local decision if they want to try to do more capacity in some of the bars and pubs.”

On Saturday, just one day after businesses fully reopened, the state reported 107 new resident coronavirus deaths.

Unsplash | Mika Baumeister

There were also 2,795 new positive cases that day, with another 2,791 reported the following day.

Florida currently ranks third for the most COVID-19 cases in the country, and fifth for total deaths.

h/t: NBC News