Florida Governor Ron DeSantis lifted all remaining coronavirus restrictions in the state on Friday, returning bars and restaurants to 100% capacity and preventing local officials from closing any businesses or imposing restrictions without giving adequate justification for doing so.
“We’re prepared if we see an increase,” DeSantis said. “We’re not closing anything moving forward. We have the tools in place.”
Six months is too long to continue restrictions that are harming businesses in ways that could be irreparable if they continue, he said, adding, “Every business has the right to operate.”
DeSantis also encouraged the Tampa Bay Bucaneers and other football teams to allow fans into their stadiums to see games.
Florida’s cases in decline since July
Florida currently has the third-highest total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. behind Texas and California, but cases have been in a steady decline since July.
The state still has more than 2,400 cases per day, on average, but is down from a peak of more than 15,ooo on July 12.
The 7-day average of deaths has also declined by almost half from its peak of 180 per day in early August.
DeSantis has resisted requiring all Floridians to wear masks, but most of the larger municipalities are requiring residents to do so.
Business closures not effective
Close to 14,000 people in the state have reportedly died of the coronavirus, which puts Florida fifth in the nation for virus deaths, trailing New York, New Jersey, Texas and California.
DeSantis is convinced by the evidence he has seen that business closures, particularly restaurants, have not made a big enough difference in stopping the virus to justify their continuance.
“Miami-Dade closed them . . . Broward didn’t,” he said in remarks to the press. “I challenge you to show me a difference in those epidemic curves . . . we can’t have businesses die.”
In fact, Worldometers said that Miami-Dade county had almost three times the number of cases as Broward even though it has less than twice the population.
A new study that has not yet been peer-reviewed suggested that the virus may be mutating to adapt to people wearing masks and hand-washing, making it more contagious.