by Paul Garilao, ABS-CBN News
FLORIDA — As the Sunshine State eases its stay-at-home orders to gradually reopen businesses and establishments, Florida governor Ron De Santis launched the “Re-open Florida Task Force.”
On Monday, De Santis held an online conference with the task force to discuss strategies to open Florida’s economy and transition the state back to normalcy.
The task force includes corporate executives from top companies like universal studios and Walt Disney world, as well as educators, and elected officials.
“I will be seeking advice and ideas on anything pretty much under the sun: small business, agriculture, restaurants, tourism, large events and conventions, recreation, international travel, k to 12, as well as higher education. There are all hosts of things that we need to be thinking about.”
De Santis said Florida can bounce back in a safe and efficient way and having fast and reliable coronavirus tests available is the key to doing so.
“I think because you have this rapid testing coming on the market that’s actually gonna allow us to maybe leverage some of these private labs in a quicker fashion.”
As of Tuesday, Florida has reported more than 27,000 positive cases of coronavirus — with more than 800 deaths.
Prior to Governor De Santis’ announcement, several cities in Florida have already taken initiatives to resume their economy — one of them is Jacksonville — which reopened its beaches and parks to the public last weekend.
People are still required to practice social distancing and no more than groups of 10 people can gather. In addition, beaches are only open to the public from 8 am to 12 noon and 5 pm to 8 pm.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry warned to close the beaches if people are not practicing social distancing or if beaches get too crowded.
“As I said in my announcement last week, the limited beaches reopening can be a first step and pathway back to normal, but we must be mindful of the risks and respect the limitations, not only for our safety but for the safety of our neighbors as well.”
Fil-Am business owner Russel Pasague took his kids to this Jacksonville beach while still mindful of practicing social distancing.
“Even though this quarantine and coronavirus [is still] going on, it is still pretty safe [to] going outside. So my brother and dad, much i can say, keep practicing safe distance. Every time we go out we still use mask.”
Meanwhile, some people in Florida have been calling for the immediate reopening of the state — so they could go back to work.
But there may not be enough jobs to return to.
Florida’s unemployment rate surged to 4.3 percent in March, due to the closures of theme parks and hotels.
(Cover photo: People take advantage of a Duval County beach opening for physical activity amid coronavirus disease restrictions in Jacksonville, Florida. Reuters/Sam Thomas)