PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County will move into Phase Two of Florida's reopening plan just days from now, and brick-and-mortar schools will reopen by Monday, Sept. 14, Mayor Dave Kerner says.
Gov. Ron DeSantis made the Phase Two announcement on Thursday during a roundtable discussion regarding bars and breweries in St. Petersburg.
"Today, we're moving Palm Beach into Phase Two, and they've done very, very well," DeSantis said, citing a decline in coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the county. "That's been really strong momentum and we believe it's gonna continue."
Earlier on Thursday, Kerner met with DeSantis and presented him with a formal letter, requesting that the county be allowed to enter Phase Two in increments starting around Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Kerner confirmed to WPTV that the official start date for Phase Two will be Sept. 8.
In addition, Kerner said that under the current reopening plan approved by DeSantis, brick-and-mortar schools in Palm Beach County are required to reopen by Monday, Sept. 14.
Claudia Shea, the director of communications and engagement for the School District of Palm Beach County, said that under the school district's current reopening plan approved by the Palm Beach County School Board and Florida Department of Education, students would return to brick-and-mortar schools five school days after Palm Beach County enters Phase Two.
According to Shea, until the school district receives a letter from DeSantis, no official date has been set for the reopening of brick-and-mortar schools.
Kerner said he made a personal request to DeSantis that the reopening of brick-and-mortar schools be pushed back to Monday, Sept. 21. However, the governor has not made a decision yet on Kerner's request.
"I have felt and I currently feel there are some concerns about the operational readiness of the school district to accept 180,000 students back," Kerner told WPTV on Thursday. "Those concerns have been reiterated and communicated to me by members of the board, and they’ve done that publicly as recent as yesterday."
WATCH GOVERNOR'S ANNOUNCEMENT:
Earlier this week, Palm Beach County commissioners voted to send a letter to DeSantis, along with a proposed incremental reopening plan for Phase Two.
In the first increment, entertainment venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, escape rooms, playhouses, skating and trampoline centers, and other venues will be allowed to reopen with reduced capacity.
Restaurants will continue operating at 50% indoor capacity and full capacity outdoors.
Retail stores, gyms and fitness centers, museums and libraries, and certain personal services establishments will be allowed to operate at full capacity.
In the next increment, entertainment venues like auditoriums, bingo parlors, comedy clubs, and concert houses will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity.
Then, movie theaters, bowling alleys, escape rooms, playhouses, skating and trampoline centers, and other entertainment venues will be allowed to expand their capacity.
In the final phase of the plan, all of the businesses listed above will be allowed to operate at full capacity. In addition, bars, arcades, billiard halls, hookah, cigar and other smoking bars and lounges, nightclubs, establishments offering adult entertainment and strip clubs will be allowed to reopen with reduced capacity.
The plan from Palm Beach County also recommends that the School District of Palm Beach County reopen brick-and-mortar schools three to four weeks after the county enters Phase Two.
However, earlier this week, a representative for the school district said they're still planning to reopen brick-and-mortar schools one week after Phase Two begins.
A statement released by the school district on Monday read:
"The Innovative Reopening Plan, approved by the Palm Beach County School Board and the Florida Department of Education, remains the same. The document calls for the reopening of campuses, and in-person instruction, one week after Palm Beach County moves from Phase 1 to Phase 2. At that time, parents will still have a choice whether to continue in distance learning or send their children back to in-person instruction."