JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Just in time for summer, Florida is lifting all restrictions on youth activities effective immediately, including athletics and summer camps.
Speaking at an indoor basketball court at Ed Austin Park in Jacksonville on Friday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis said children are less likely to be infected and hospitalized from COVID-19 than adults.
"I think our kids have been out of organized activities for a couple months now, and I think that we need to have a pathway to get it back," DeSantis said.
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According to the Florida Department of Health, there have been zero coronavirus-related deaths in Florida in patients under the age of 25.
"This virus has a disproportionate impact on the elderly," DeSantis said. "Kids don't seem to get infected at the same rates that some other adults get infected."
The governor stopped short of reopening playgrounds across the state, which remain closed due to concerns over the pandemic.
DeSantis said while youth activities can resume, he encouraged parents to talk their child's doctor and coaches to ensure it's safe for them to participate.
"This is a parent's decision. No parent is required to have their kid, if you don't feel comfortable doing it, don't do it," DeSantis said.
The governor added that the state will not require children to wear face coverings while playing youth sports, however individual cities can choose to put those type of restrictions in place.
"I've seen other jurisdictions, other states do like, 100 rules for how to pick up a tennis ball," DeSantis said. "When you do that and you overcook it, you end up getting less compliance with it. Because people just throw up their hands and say, this is ridiculous."
Florida is currently in "full Phase One" of its reopening plan, meaning restaurants and retail stores can operate at 50% capacity indoors, and gyms and fitness centers can reopen.