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Florida Reopening

Reopen the Sunshine State and help businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

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Published August 5th, 2020

The State of Florida Reopening

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced in late April that most of the State of Florida will begin with the reopening process as early as May 4, 2020. Reopening gave Floridians the opportunity to resume operating businesses by adhering to safety protocols that intend to help protect employees and customers from COVID-19.

The Sunshine State of the USA

One of the most visited vacation destinations in the continental United States, the State of Florida is home to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, and other large theme parks that attract 87.5 million visitors in a year. The Sunshine State also has the most popular beaches in the country where millions of domestic and international tourists go to almost year-round. Florida is considered one of the most retirement-friendly states in the US and has the second-highest percentage of retiree residents.

The third most populous and the state with the fourth largest economy in the US, Florida relies on industries involved in tourism, agriculture, aerospace, aviation, and international trade to drive its GDP. The arrival of COVID-19 pandemic in the US, however, has put a strain on businesses in Florida and in other states.

Florida and COVID-19

Spring break season in Florida gained some notoriety when it coincided with the start of the spread COVID-19 in the US. Beach-goers and revelers at the time were not aware of just how serious COVID-19 was going to be and later expressed regret after learning more of the health risks and casualties caused by the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic was declared a national emergency in March 2020 and to mitigate the spread of the disease in Florida, a state-wide order was given in April for the shutdown of non-essential businesses and a stay-at-home rule was implemented.

Reopening Florida in Phases

The governor of Florida released executive orders to guide the state’s residents on what to do during the pandemic. One executive order was given to begin reopening in May 2020 as the start of Phase 1 of the state’s recovery. During this phase, seniors and individuals with underlying medical conditions are encouraged to continue staying at home and limit risk of exposure to COVID-19. Beaches are reopened but are following county- and state-specific rules. Businesses such as restaurants are allowed to open provided that they operate at 50% capacity and their customers and staff observe precautionary measures such as social distancing.

An event worth noting during Florida’s first phase of reopening is that on May 30, 2020, SpaceX, in partnership with NASA, successfully launched two astronauts into orbit aboard the spacecraft Crew Dragon—the first manned launch via a commercially-built spacecraft in the US.

Current State of Florida Reopening: Phase 2 Recovery

Phase 2 is scheduled on June 5, 2020, and Floridians are encouraged to continue following social distancing and other safety protocols set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). During this second phase, everyone in the state should avoid congregating into groups of 50 or more persons and staff of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes should get tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis. Gyms and fitness centers should maintain social distancing and cleaning and disinfection protocols in their facilities.

Businesses in entertainment are allowed to open and should follow social distancing and proper sanitation, while personal services can also operate following the guidelines of the Florida Department of Health.

Travel to Florida

Travel to Florida is allowed but some measures need to be observed, such as going through self-quarantine (14 days or the length of the visitor’s stay, whichever is shorter) if the visitor is coming from the state of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. Commercial truck drivers, health workers, and those in the military are exempted from the rules on quarantine that took effect in March 2020 by virtue of the governor’s executive order.

Travel to the Sunshine State during Phase 2 of its recovery now includes exemptions for “persons involved in commercial activity and students traveling for the purpose of academic work, internships, sports training and any other activity or program approved by the educational institution.”

Implementing Safety Protocols

Following safety protocols that adapt to current developments during the pandemic can help keep the spread of the disease under control which will then give businesses the opportunity to continue operating. Business owners and managers need to ensure that safety protocols such as social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, proper hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette are observed for the safety of both the employees and customers. Using the latest monitoring checklists created specifically for operating businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic can help employers and managers maintain safety and productivity in Florida. Review and download the appropriate checklists below.


Please note that these checklists, while created with the latest best practices in mind, provide basic information only and are not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of such checklists are permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.


Erick Brent Francisco

SafetyCulture staff writer

As a staff writer for SafetyCulture, Erick is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. Prior to SafetyCulture, Erick worked in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail.