A decision to suspend dine-in activity in restaurants to encourage social distancing was absent from a public announcement by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis regarding changes the state was making to address the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday morning.
The Governor announced the State of Florida had chosen to suspend bars and nightclubs for 30 days starting 5pm this evening and ending April 15th, but not restaurant dine-in service.
This goes agains the President's Cornavirus Guidelines for America which was released Monday which explicitly recommends that people "avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants..."
Several states, most with far less cases of coronavirus than Florida, placed a suspension on restaurant dine-in service as well as closing bars after receiving the guidelines. See below.
Indiana did it Monday with 24 cases
Kentucky did it Monday with 25 cases
Ohio did it Sunday with 37 cases
Connecticut did it Monday with 41 cases
Maryland did it Monday with 43 cases
Oregon did it Monday with 47 cases
Washington did it Monday with 42 cases
Michigan did it Monday with 50 cases
Pennsylvania did it in several counties Monday with 96 cases.
Illinois did it Monday with 105 cases
Louisiana did it Monday with 132 cases
Massachusetts did it Monday with 164 cases
New Jersey did it Monday with 178 cases
New York did it Monday with 950 cases
Florida had 192 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday.
The restaurants in these states are allowed to continue or transition to takeout and delivery.
Florida restaurants will be allowed to maintain their dine-in service with the following restrictions: (1) seating must be limited to 50% capacity, (2) there must be 6 feet of distance between seated parties, and (3) restaurants must screen employees and prohibit entry for any employees displaying symptoms of the illness.
The Governor left it up to local jurisdictions to make the restrictions more severe as needed.
Orlando Mayor Dyer said in a separate public address Tuesday morning the city will continue to look at how the CDC’s guidelines will impact the operations of restaurants.
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association's President & CEO said in a release Tuesday, “I want to commend Governor DeSantis for his extraordinary leadership in keeping Floridians safe during this unprecedented time. We appreciate his thoughtful and measured approach to this historic emergency event. He so shown great support for Florida’s restaurants. Permitting them to remain open will allow local businesses to continue to operate and provide employment while also providing an additional resource for consumer demand.