ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Restaurants will be able to operate without restrictions in Florida, said Gov. Ron DeSantis Friday as he announced the state would move to Phase 3 of reopening.
The governor’s latest executive order also prohibits local governments from closing businesses or collecting fines related to pandemic-related mandates, such as mask requirements.
“All of these fines we’re going to hold in abeyance,” he said.
The move to Phase 3 also removes all remaining restrictions on businesses.
“We’re also saying in the state of Florida everybody has a right to work,” DeSantis said. Local governments "can do reasonable regulations but they can’t just say no.”
The major parts of the executive 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. 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.
- Local Governments are also able to meet in person under phase 3