FLORIDA — Just in time for summer, Florida is lifting all restrictions on youth activities effective immediately, including athletics and summer camps.
Speaking at an indoor basketball court at Ed Austin Park in Jacksonville on Friday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis said children are less likely to be infected and hospitalized from COVID-19 than adults.
"I think our kids have been out of organized activities for a couple months now, and I think that we need to have a pathway to get it back," DeSantis said.
According to the Florida Department of Health, there have been zero coronavirus-related deaths in Florida in patients under the age of 25.
"This virus has a disproportionate impact on the elderly," DeSantis said. "Kids don't seem to get infected at the same rates that some other adults get infected."
The governor stopped short of reopening playgrounds across the state, which remain closed due to concerns over the pandemic.
DeSantis said while youth activities can resume, he encouraged parents to talk to their child's doctor and coaches to ensure it's safe for them to participate.
"This is a parent's decision. No parent is required to have their kid, if you don't feel comfortable doing it, then don't do it," DeSantis said.
The governor added that the state will not require children to wear face coverings while playing youth sports, however, individual cities can choose to put those types of restrictions in place.
"I've seen other jurisdictions, other states do like, 100 rules for how to pick up a tennis ball," DeSantis said. "When you do that and you overcook it, you end up getting less compliance with it. Because people just throw up their hands and say, this is ridiculous."
In Tampa, YMCA locations are preparing to welcome more than 3,500 kids for summer camp.
Staff members will conduct daily temperature checks and add hand-washing and sanitizing stations.
They've also reduced enrollment to ensure proper social distancing between campers during activities.
"We’ll have a smaller groups of kids with small ratios and also want to make sure kids stay in the same group throughout the day so there’s not a lot of cross-contamination in case a child might be sick," said Matt Mitchell, CEO of Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA.
Florida is currently in "full Phase One" of its reopening plan, meaning restaurants and retail stores can operate at 50% capacity indoors, and gyms and fitness centers can reopen.
You can read more information on summer camp plans across Tampa Bay by clicking here.