It's official: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has just announced that some non-essential businesses will reopen in Miami-Dade and Broward County starting May 18. Gov. DeSantis made the announcement at a news conference in Doral, Florida on Thursday. The South Florida counties will move into phase one of reopening, joining the rest of the state. 

Starting next week, non-essential businesses such as restaurants will reopen, though spas, bars, gyms, beaches, bowling alleys, and movie theaters will remain closed.

The counties will follow a set of guidelines called "The New Normal." This guidebook outlines phase one restrictions, including social distancing, hand washing, and wearing face masks in public settings.

“We’re now able to take this first small but very important step for this region," said DeSantis during the conference. He also commented that the counties have recently made a lot of progress.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and Broward County Mayor Dale V. C. Holness also spoke at the news conference. 

Gimenez clarified that Miami-Dade will continue to expand COVID-19 testing and that any business that doesn't comply with the new guidelines will be shut down again. 

“Remember, I keep you safe, you keep me safe,” he said. 

Mayor Holness said that he'll wait until at least May 26 to reopen Broward beaches. Popular Broward beach destinations include Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Pompano Beach. 

The two counties were essentially excluded from DeSantis' phase one plan since South Florida was deemed the epicenter of the state's novel coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Broward county is 6,057. In Miami-Dade, the number is 14,742, over double Broward's figures.

Total cases in the state of Florida equal 43,210, with 1,875 deaths. 

For now, DeSantis is cautiously optimistic regarding the future of Florida during the pandemic.

“It’s going to take time but we can’t take our eye off the ball," he said. "The virus is still here.”

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