JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Gyms and fitness centers throughout the state of Florida can reopen on Monday, and restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, Gov. Ron DeSantis says.
Speaking at Ascension St. Vincent's Riverside Hospital in Jacksonville on Friday, the governor said Florida is ready to enter "full Phase One" of the state's reopening plan.
"Don't we want people to be getting exercise? Don't we want people to stay in shape?" DeSantis said. "It's gonna actually make them more resistant to severe consequences."
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Florida heads into a "full phase one" reopening starting Monday, says @GovRonDeSantis. That includes restaurants and retail at 50% capacity, museums and libraries 50%, gyms and fitness centers can reopen with social distancing.— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) May 15, 2020
The governor said that COVID-19, as a respiratory disease, has some of the worst impacts on people with health problems or those who are not in good physical shape.
DeSantis stressed that social distancing and proper sanitation will be critical factors once gyms and fitness centers reopen.
"Make sure that you respect the social distancing capacity," DeSantis said. "If you're sweating on the dip bar, clean the dip bar if you're done doing dips."
The governor added that outdoor training is a good option at gyms, as it lessens the risk of spreading the virus.
"The outdoor stuff is a lower risk environment outdoors than if you're inside a stuffy room or gym where you're potentially gonna be exposed to respiratory droplets," DeSantis said.
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The governor also announced that starting on Monday, restaurants and retail stores throughout Florida can operate at 50% capacity.
Currently, those businesses are operating at 25% capacity.
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"A lot of that is based on the spacing of the tables or if you have some type of partition," DeSantis said. "All we're trying to do is create a low risk environment."
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Gyms and fitness centers from Boca Raton to the Treasure Coast were highly anticipating the governor’s announcement on Friday.
"We're taking it extremely seriously and have been preparing by making sure we all have safety precautions in place to make sure that people are able to stay as safe as possible," said Melissa Medrano, the co-owner of Orangetheory Fitness in Palm Beach Gardens.
Medrano said that once their location opens, gym members will wait outside before each class begins and will be spaced out with cones.
In addition, each gym member will have their temperature taken to make sure they don't have a fever.
"We'll have limited staff working here as well because it's all about limiting contact as much as possible," said Medrano.
Powerhouse Gym in Stuart has been doing an equipment rental program to allow members to check out weights and other gear to do their workouts at home.
At HiiT56 in west Boca Raton, owner Pam Waddick started what she calls "sweat and park" workout sessions.
Waddick said she was getting calls from members who were anxious to get back in the gym.
In the "sweat and park" sessions, participants do each workout right next to their car in the parking lot, so they are separated from one another. They use separate equipment, bring their own towels, and have their own bag of disinfectant wipes.
"They want to come in, they want to work out, they want to get back to some type of normal life," said Waddick.
Waddick added they had the gym completely sanitized and are marking off the floor for social distancing and separating equipment.