Restaurants across The Sunshine State have been operating at restricted capacity for months. Florida restaurant restrictions will soon be lifted, and Governor Ron DeSantis wants to open up capacity completely.
During a roundtable discussion with medical experts, DeSantis mentioned that he will soon lift capacity restrictions on restaurants.
"We can't have these businesses dying, so they're not going to be able to be closed by locals anymore," DeSantis said.
What are the current restrictions now?
Currently, restaurants in Florida are allowed to operate indoor dining at only 50 percent capacity and have to require that tables are six-feet apart from each other.
Restaurant owners across the state welcomed the move to reopen dining rooms, with many local restaurants struggling to survive on just take-out and delivery.
DeSantis said that part of the reason why he was looking at releasing restrictions was to prevent restaurants from going out of business.
What would DeSantis' order do?
The coming order would be simplistic — restaurants will no longer be subjected to limiting the number of restaurant patrons.
It will lift capacity limits, allowing those businesses to set their own terms.
DeSantis said that the current restrictions on restaurants were "ineffective" in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
"Miami-Dade closed them at the height, Broward didn't. I challenge you to show me a difference in those epidemic curves," DeSantis said.
Currently, both counties have capacity limits on indoor dining.
Can local governments re-impose restrictions if cases rise again?
The short answer is no.
Along with lifting capacity restrictions, DeSantis' order will "preempt" local governments from reimposing restrictions.
That means counties and cities across the state won't be able to reimpose capacity restrictions on restaurants, even if COVID-19 cases rise again.
"They're not going to be able to be closed by locals anymore," DeSantis said.
DeSantis' order will allow local restaurants to set capacity as they see fit. So while a restaurant could, operate with 100 percent capacity, they could also still restrict or close indoor seating entirely.
The new order will take that decision out of the local government's hands.