By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – Effective yesterday, June 5th, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that 64 Florida counties, all except Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, were entering Phase 2 of the reopening plan. Palm Beach County announced yesterday that they will ask to be included as well, on most points.
While Florida’s COVID-19 cases are rising in certain areas and population segments, Governor DeSantis announced Phase 2 earlier this week, and that “Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach may seek approval, have a plan, submit it through the mayor or county administrator,” DeSantis said. “They’re on a little bit of a different schedule.”
The Phase 2 reopening for the State includes, restaurants allowed bar-top seating with appropriate social distancing, as well as bars and pubs able to operate at fifty percent capacity inside, and full capacity outside with appropriate social distancing (and patrons may only receive service if seated).
Retail establishments may operate at full capacity with responsible social distancing and sanitization protocols. Gyms may operate at full capacity with appropriate social distancing and frequent sanitization.
Entertainment businesses, including but not limited to movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades, may operate at fifty percent capacity with appropriate social distancing and sanitization protocols.
Personal services businesses, including but not limited to tattoo parlors, acupuncture establishments, tanning salons and massage establishments may operate while adhering to guidance from the Florida Department of Health.
Palm Beach County Mayor, Dave Kerner, announced late yesterday that the county would seek approval to follow these allowances, except for the stand-alone bars and pubs, which would remain closed for now. As Palm Beach Post reported, the decision to join Phase 2 happened without an official endorsement from the commission or public discussion.
At the press conference yesterday, Mayor Kerner said, “Palm Beach County is ready to go into Phase Two, but we want to do it with some particular carve outs that are necessary for the unique nature of Palm Beach County […] We’re not prepared to have stand-alone bars open just yet.”
At the start of the press conference he said. “Palm Beach County continues to proceed through the reopening of our economy here in Palm Beach County in a safe, smart and step by step manner, utilizing the full resources at our command including about $261 million in funding from the cares act from the federal government.”
“We are all well aware of the economic damage, stress on our healthcare system, state and federal defense and security forces and other impacts,” he said. “The quicker and more effectively that we combat COVID, the quicker and more effectively can respond to other issues.”
In Delray Beach, the City will now be allowed to make its own decision on joining Phase 2 to the extent the County is allowed. So far Delray Beach officials have proceeded slower that the County, opening the beaches in slower steps more aligned to Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.
The City of Delray Beach did announce yesterday that City Hall will begin reopening to the public from 8AM to 5PM, on Monday, June 8th. The following departments will be providing in-person services: Finance/Utility Billing, City Clerk, Development Services, Neighborhood and Community Services.
Social distancing and face coverings are required for all customers and employees, and plexiglass barriers have been installed at customer service locations for added protection. Customers are encouraged to continue to use online resources and virtual meetings whenever possible.
Stephanie Immelman, Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce president, shared her position on the County leadership. “The County is making decisions based on science,” she said. “So I feel confident in what they recommend. Communication is key to making sure businesses know exactly what is allowed and how best to reopen safely.”
In regard to what the Chamber is doing to help businesses, she shared, “Our summer campaign, #KeepLocalsAfloat, focuses on our locals. We want to encourage our community to support our local businesses and keep them afloat!”
Adding, “Our Chamber members have uploaded their promotions on our website so go to www.DelrayBeach.com/float to get some local deals. You’ll be seeing fun images from our local businesses on both their social media channels and the Chamber’s. We’ll be reminding the community to Keep Locals Afloat all summer.”