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State parks will reopen on Monday, May 4, including in South Florida

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Posted at 9:57 AM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 14:50:52-04

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — State parks across Florida will reopen just days from now, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Friday.

"Being outdoors in open air is more low risk," DeSantis said at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville. "Today, we take a step that I think is good for the people of Florida. I think it's gonna be good for their peace of mind because people have been cooped up."

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus | The Rebound South Florida | We're Open South Florida

In addition to state parks, other elements of Phase One of Florida's reopening plan will go into effect on Monday, May 4.

However, a majority of Phase One will not include Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties at first because of the high number of COVID-19 cases in those areas.

Despite that, DeSantis said some state parks in the three South Florida counties will reopen on Monday.

"Those three counties all opened parks, marinas, and golf courses last week," said DeSantis. "I supported their decision 100 percent. And so we would want to have access as well to some of these [state parks]."

The governor said Florida's Department of Environmental Protection will roll out the parameters for reopening state parks.

"There is gonna be restrictions, there's gonna be limitations so people are safe. But I really believe if people are out there and they're not in big groups, I think it's a low risk environment," DeSantis said.

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FULL NEWS CONFERENCE: Gov. DeSantis says Florida state parks will reopen on Monday

Under Phase One, counties across the state will follow these guidelines:

  • Schools continue distance learning until further notice
  • Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited
  • Elective surgeries can resume
  • Restaurants may offer outdoor seating with 6-foot space between tables and indoor seating at 25 percent capacity
  • Large venues like movie theaters will remain closed
  • Retail can operate at 25 percent of indoor capacity
  • No change for bars, gyms, and personal services such as hair dressers (they will remain closed until further notice)
  • Vulnerable individuals should avoid close contact with people outside the home
  • All individuals, when in public, should maximize physical distance from others
  • Avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for physical distancing
  • Face masks are recommended for all those in face-to-face interactions and where you can't social distance

State officials said elective surgeries can resume in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties next week.

DeSantis also announced the opening of a new coronavirus testing site at the University of West Florida in Pensacola on Friday.

According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 34,728 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 1,314 deaths.