BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Broward County commissioners held a meeting Tuesday to discuss relaxing restrictions as more people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Just before 6:30 p.m., they agreed to lift restrictions on outdoor activities such as community and condo pools, golf courses and other outside activities where people aren’t in close proximity.
Further restrictions will be lifted under an approved Phase 1 plan as COVID-19 cases go down and vaccinations go up, the county said.
During the meeting, Broward County Mayor Steve Geller called his reopening proposal science-based.
According to the now-approved proposal, Phase 1 would require a 50 percent vaccination rate for the county and a 5% or less COVID-19 positivity rate for 10 days.
Broward’s current 14-day positivity rate is 7.14% and only 29% of the county’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“At our current vaccination number, which was 540,000 as of yesterday, and at the rate we are going of about 11,000 a day, we expect that within in about three weeks we will hit the 50% vaccination rate in Broward,” Geller said. “And then, I can’t tell you when we are going to get back to 5% positive.”
Geller, however, is optimistic that the county can get to Phase 1 as long as people keep their masks on and do their part to be safe.
“Please protect yourself, protect others, get your vaccine,” he said. “As soon as we reach these numbers, lets reopen and party, just don’t do it just yet.”
Phase 1 would include lifting distancing requirements for hotels, lifting capacity and distancing requirements for restaurants, outdoor gatherings and non-professional sporting events and lifting capacity limits on retail establishments, charter boats and house parties.
While the proposal is about reopening and relaxing requirements, many used their comment time to disparage the mayor on rules and closures.
Public commenters also expressed vaccine and mask skepticism to a point where Commissioner Dr. Barbara Sharief felt the need to provide a disclaimer on misinformation.
“There’s not people dying from the vaccine, there’s people dying from not getting it,” she said.
Commissioners went on to discuss a vaccine hesitancy education campaign that will soon launch, to assure Broward residents that the vaccine is a safe, smart choice and the best path forward.