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Gov. DeSantis says Florida will reopen slowly, methodically

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Posted at 3:16 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 23:16:21-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP/WFTS) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is saying that the state will reopen from the coronavirus economic shutdown in “baby steps” and that its regions could reopen at different times and rates.

The governor said Monday that for most people, the reopening’s first phase will not be much different than what they are experiencing now with schools and nonessential businesses closed and people being encouraged to stay home.

He is expected to begin laying out his plans this week as he reviews recommendations from a task force he appointed that looked at reopening various aspects of the economy.

"Folks should see a light at the end of the tunnel for the state of Florida. Now it’s not going to be something that a switch is going to be flipped," DeSantis said during a news conference at Tampa General Hospital. "This is going to be slow and steady wins the race. It’s going to be methodical, very data driven, and there’s gonna probably be some people that think it’s too slow."

Both a state safer at home order and similar order in Hillsborough County remain in effect.

"We don't want anymore confusion," said Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners Chairman Les Miller, explaining the county will not do anything with its executive order until they see what the governor decides.

Meanwhile, some businesses are starting to think about what next steps may mean, with some agreeing that taking it slow is necessary.

"The issue is making sure whoever opens their door to the public has the infrastructure or business practices in place to maintain the cleanliness and the safety for their clients," said Maureen Ayral, who owns several properties in Tampa Heights.

Her tenants include a food hall and event space.

"It is really going to take a village and my money’s on Tampa Heights I think they’re an amazing community and just open the communication and try to look at your neighboring businesses as partners," she said.

Meanwhile in St. Petersburg, Mayor Rick Kriseman hosted a virtual meeting with Restart St. Pete advisors. He said they'll look at the percentage of positive tests, hospital capacity, testing availability and contact tracing as guidelines.

"There is a spirit in the city that is unmatched anywhere. There is magic here. Our people are engaged, passionate and willing to do whatever it takes to see this city succeed," he said.

Similar metrics have been discussed among Hillsborough County leaders as well.