WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that Palm Beach County can begin Phase 1 of his reopening plan on Monday. Previously the county was on hold with Miami-Dade and Broward, while 64 counties across Florida went into Phase 1 Monday.
The decision to open Palm Beach County next week comes after Mayor Dave Kerner sent a letter Thursday to DeSantis pleading for permission to reopen his county.
“I looked at Palm Beach’s request. I am going to authorize that the county can move into Phase 1. I think that they’re ready for it,” DeSantis said. “I think the people here are smart.”
On Saturday, DeSantis issued an Executive Order, backing up his words and allowing Palm Beach County to enter Phase 1.
Kerner made a surprise announcement Friday saying that the county had just voted to tentatively open their public beaches on May 18.
Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez shared earlier Friday that May 18 was a target date for Dade, though he and DeSantis noted that that date is not set in stone.
Phase 1 includes restaurants and non-essential retail businesses being allowed to open at 25% capacity, with many other distancing protocols remaining in place. Schools will continue distance learning. No visitors at senior care facilities. Elective surgeries may resume statewide.
“Both of those counties [Miami-Dade and Broward] have been very thoughtful about how they’re going to move forward. Our target for them, we’d like to see them move into Phase 1 on [May] 18,” DeSantis said. “They have trended in good directions. ... If you look at the hospitalizations in Miami-Dade the people on ventilators now compared to where we were three weeks ago, obviously, there’s been a decline. You see Broward, you have seen a decline and their positivity is now below 10 percent in Broward County ... so there are definitely good trends.”
The South Florida counties had previously spoken about aligning their reopening plans so that people from one county wouldn’t flock to another that had loosened its restrictions earlier.
A group of Democratic Congress members from Florida wrote a letter to DeSantis on Friday expressing “grave concerns” with his plan to open the state amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
DeSantis was speaking Friday at a news conference in West Palm Beach along with Kerner and Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew.
DeSantis also announced that quick-result antibody testing is coming to the testing location at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm, similar to the testing that had been added at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.