By Rebecca Fending
We begin to move forward to life after the coronavirus pandemic, much of this due to the reopening of Florida. As steps to reopen the state began in May, phase two of the structured post-shutdown plan began Friday, June 5. But just what does “phase two” mean and how will things be different moving forward?
Reopening with “Phase Two”
The purpose of establishing a phased plan to reopen each state is to ease the public back into a new definition of normalcy; one that includes an increased level of mindfulness when it comes to our health, both personal and public. Phase one began in early May and detailed essentially the same guidelines that were issued at the beginning of the nationwide quarantine period: stay at home as much as possible, use extreme precaution if in public by using masks, gloves, abiding by social distance regulations and sanitize products before bringing them into your home. One of the largest changes was the reopening of gyms for the public’s use.
With Florida newly entering phase two, the tight restrictions of phase one are beginning to melt. Here is a list of phase two specifics:
- Nonessential travel is able to resume, though still not advised for employers.
- Retail stores and businesses can now open to full capacity.
- Bars and nightclubs can open but only to 50 percent capacity with social distancing in effect. Seated tables will have a limit of 10 guests. The same can be said for restaurants, but open to 75 percent capacity.
- Gathering places of entertainment (e.g. movie theaters, concert venues, casinos & etc.) are reopened under the same guidelines as bars and nightclubs.
- Beaches and state parks are open with social distancing no longer being enforced.
- Salons (including tattoo and tanning) can open, but only to 25 percent capacity.
- Those in at-risk groups such as the immunocompromised and seniors 65 years of age and older should still use extreme caution and utilize proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when in public spaces.
If phase two goes well without a large spike in COVID-19 cases within the state, Florida will move on to phase three: a totally open state with optional social distancing and PPE use.
Has life as we’ve known it disappeared?
A majority of Floridians are ecstatic that Governor DeSantis has initiated the plan for reopening the state. From being able to take summer road trips to simply being able to eat at our favorite restaurants, life is slowly returning to “normal”. However, in the aftermath of the intense COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are left wondering, “will anything be the same?” The answer is a complicated yes and no.
Life, of course, goes on and it is what you make it. We can return to doing what we need from day to day, whether it be grocery shopping, leisurely shopping or taking our fur babies to their groomer. We can still go to restaurants and see a movie, just with other civilians a bit farther away. We’re slowly but surely working our way back to how life was before coronavirus, and rest assured, we will get there.
All this being said, our expected experience for retail shopping may stay changed for the foreseeable future. Businesses reserve the right to enforce their own rules and regulations for the health of their customers. Places such as Costco have enforced (and will continue to enforce) the use of face masks by customers to inhibit the spread of the disease within the notoriously crowded retail store. There’s no way to tell when these enforced regulations will be lifted by individual businesses, but it may be some time yet. Ideally, you should carry a face mask on you at all times to ensure that you’ll be able to do the shopping you need.
As you continue to live in a post-pandemic-stricken world, be sure to keep your health at the forefront of your attention. For some of us, this may include the continued use of masks, gloves and homemade disinfectant spray. For others, it may mean returning to our regular schedules for the sake of our mental health. Whatever you need to do, be sure to stay safe and stay healthy.