Florida was one of the last states to issue COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, resisting until April 1st.
On May 4th it became one of the first states to begin reopening under Governor DeSantis’ plan, “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” Based on guidance issued by the White House, Florida’s plan phases the reopening of businesses and public spaces based on safety metrics and risk factors:
There are three major safety metrics that will be used as benchmarks for moving into the next phases. The metrics are Syndromic Surveillance, Epidemiology and Outbreak Decline, and Health Care Capability. All three metrics must be met before entering a new phase:
The first week of May when the state set these plans into action, some counties (Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach) didn’t meet the safety benchmarks and thus, were not able to enter Phase 1. Ten days later, the governor signed an executive order allowing those counties to enter Phase 1 on May 14th.
June 3rd, Governor DeSantis announced that the state could enter Phase 2. However, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties refrained from entering Phase 2, per their own county-wide restrictions. Seeing much higher rates of infection than other counties, they have been “exercising enhanced caution” in reopening.[i]
As for when the excluded counties will enter Phase 2, or when the rest of the state will enter Phase 3, there has not been much information from the governor’s office. The state is experiencing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, although there is debate that it is a result of increased testing, not an increase in infection rates. The CDC’s projection model for Florida estimates an increase in cases through September.[ii] Whether the state will make alterations to Phase 2 or move fully into Phase 3 remains to be seen.
The safety of patrons and employees is a priority for businesses at any time. In the midst of this pandemic, it can be especially challenging to determine which policies and cleaning practices are appropriate for your particular operation. EBI Consulting’s environmental health and safety professionals can assist with housekeeping plans, employee safety and training, and developing policies that are compliant with your local coronavirus guidelines. Contact us today to see how we can support your responsible reopening.