Florida Has Relaxed Its Coronavirus Lockdown: What This Means for You and Your 2020 Holidays to Florida
LAST UPDATED: 08 OCTOBER
When the coronavirus hit the USA, states like New York and New Jersey really felt the impact. States like Florida, on the other hand, have been a bit luckier in comparison, and have now joined the ranks of the earliest states to begin to ease coronavirus restrictions.
While parts of the US are still experiencing strict social restraints, Florida has begun to tip-toe toward normalcy. Does this mean we can pack our bags, throw on some flip flops and head for the sand?
It’s going to take lots of baby steps to get there, but some states - like Florida - are more eager than others to get business buzzing again. Attractions and establishments are now slowly reopening to local residents, but the FCDO still advises British nationals against all but essential international travel to the USA.
With Teletext Holidays’ Reopening hub, we aim to keep you informed of the latest developments in Florida, so you can make an informed decision as to whether and when to plan your next holiday.
Florida and the Coronavirus: The Latest News
A lockdown wasn’t implemented in Florida until 2 April, making it one of the last states to restrict all non-essential movement. Now it’s among the largest states to begin to ease coronavirus quarantines. But hey, all that space means more room for social distancing, right?
PHASE 1 - 4 MAY
Just a month after it was shut down, Florida governor Rick DeSantis announced some of the state would be reopening. Phase one of his plan made an effort to relax the workplace closures and stay-at-home orders. Some beaches and state parks have reopened with enforced social distancing, the typical two metres/six feet that we’ve heard touted every day for the past eight weeks.
Small retailers and restaurants have also been permitted to open their doors, with limitations of only hitting 25% capacity.
Initially, Governor Ron DeSantis strayed away from Trump’s guidelines by not allowing gyms to open just yet, so locals could continue to work on their ‘quarantine body’ in peace. However, since May 18th, Florida has entered into a ‘full phase one’, meaning gyms are now allowed to reopen. No more excuses for being a couch potato.
As of 1 June, hotels in the Miami area have opened to the general public once more - although health precautions are in place to ensure the safety of the staff and guests. Face masks are required in public areas such as the lobby, lifts are operating at 50% capacity, guests’ temperatures will be taken during check in and all rooms will be sanitised regularly. A small price to pay for a stay in a hotel, if you ask us - we’re all sick of our homes by now!
Since the ‘full phase one’ has kicked in, restaurants have also been allowed to open at 50% capacity, allowing for a slightly more normal experience of eating out.
PHASE 2: 5 JUNE
If you think the idea of sitting in a restaurant is exciting, wait until you hear about phase two! Bars and cinemas are now open at reduced capacity (although, funnily enough, you currently can’t drink alcohol while at the bars), as well as personal services such as tanning salons and tattoo parlours. Retailers can now operate at full capacity, as can gyms and fitness centres. Nightclubs will, however, remain closed - but you can still have a dance party with some friends, as you can now gather in groups of 50 or less.
PHASE 3: 25 SEPTEMBER
On Friday 25 September, the governor announced that Florida is now officially entering phase three of its reopening plan. While it is still advised that individuals continue social distancing and avoid large crowds wherever possible and that businesses adhere to proper hygiene and sanitisation standards, phase three allows for some more freedoms including (but not limited to!):
- Fitness centres and gyms can open at full capacity.
- Nightclubs, bars and restaurants that make 50% or more of their revenue from alcohol sales can operate at full capacity.
- While businesses should continue to encourage employees to work from home, they should begin thinking about and implementing plans to return to the office.
- State parks and public beaches can fully reopen.
- Large sporting events can resume.
Theme parks and more
We know what you’re thinking. But what about the theme parks? We want to go to the theme parks! You’ve been dreaming of going to Disney World for your whole life. Think of it at only 25% capacity - no lines, no sweaty crowds of people sardining for shade in the middle of the afternoon. It’s what dreams are made of, for sure. We bet now all you want to do is throw on your Mickey Mouse ears and go for a spin in a giant teacup. Listen, we’re right there with you.
The good news is that Universal Orlando has announced a phased reopening plan starting on 5 June - including Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay - and Walt Disney World began reopening on 11 July! This follows the reopening of Disney Springs and CityWalk in late May, subject to certain restrictions.
If, today, you were to visit the many shops and restaurants that this attraction has to offer, you’d see hand sanitising stations and face masks abound. And you’d have plenty of space, as social distancing is being monitored and encouraged and the park is running at a lessened capacity.
The Florida Keys, which reopened to visitors on 1 June, have wholeheartedly embraced protective measures like social distancing, hand washing, wearing face masks and more - making for safe and responsible fun in the sun for Florida residents.
Will Holidays to Florida 2020 Be Possible?
Wanderlust is like a thirst that can only be quenched with a tall glass of water (or a cool dip off the coast of Fort Lauderdale). We’re feeling the urge to book that flight and take off on holiday, especially after being bogged down at home in quarantine.
The beaches of Florida sound like the perfect place to take a deep, salty breath of ocean air and unwind. Take a look at Miami Beach in Miami, Florida. There’s plenty of space for you and your family to sprawl out, and Florida beaches will no doubt welcome your company with open arms.
That being said, it’s no surprise that Floridians flocked to the beaches like seagulls as soon as they were reopened to the public. Is it really a Florida beach if it’s not packed with ocean-lovers?
Sure, social distancing is being monitored and beaches and restaurants are open (with restrictions), but the future of holidays to Florida depends on how well the public responds to the health and safety guidelines. Like we’re all probably used to by now after so long in quarantine, we just have to wait and see how the health trend shapes up before we can start packing our bags.
Is Florida Safe to Visit?
Is Florida safe to travel to? While we’re still not sure when the best time to visit Florida will be, as per 08 October 2020, things are looking positive as the state enters phase three of reopening.
As per 8 June 2020, things are looking positive as the state enters phase two of reopening.
If you were to travel right now, parts of your trip would be a bit different, starting with having your temperature taken as you deboard your plane. On the other hand, you’ll have more space to yourself on beaches and in some of the parks, and if you’re willing to queue a little, you might get a seat in a half-full restaurant.
However, it’s important to note that the UK government still recommends that you don’t travel to the USA unless absolutely necessary - and even then, once you return back to the UK after your trip, you will have to self-isolate for 14 days. It looks like it’s best to hold off on booking your holiday for the time being… but we’ve got our fingers crossed that the USA (and, most importantly, Florida) will be added to the list of government-approved travel corridors soon!
Stay tuned to the news and watch for the trend of cases to go down before booking your ticket. We know you’re excited to break out that fabulous hat you’ve been saving for a day at the beach. Just think, when it’s finally safe to wear it as you lounge on the sand, it will be that much more dazzling. If you can’t wait to take it for a spin though, we’d love it if you shared it with us via social media!
Our other blog posts are dazzling too, you know, and are sure to keep you entertained while you wait for the green light to get out of town.