ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — People in Pinellas County may soon be able to watch a movie in a theater, even though the governor said theaters would remain shut under Phase One of Florida's reopening effort.
Why? It's how county leaders are interpreting Gov. Ron DeSantis' Executive Order No. 20-123 -- not what he suggested verbally, but the order itself.
Pinellas County released additional guidance Monday detailing what businesses are allowed to reopen and what owners need to do to remain open. New types of businesses that can reopen under the county's guidance include tattoo services, massage services, movie theaters and bowling alleys.
Those businesses are laid out in the Re-Open Florida Task Force report presented to DeSantis. It says, under Phase One, large venues (i.e. movie theaters, concert halls, auditoriums, bowling alleys, arcades, playhouses, casinos) can open at no more than 50-percent capacity with a minimum of 6-feet between people.
Employees need to "clean and disinfect all surfaces after each use," and owners should "consider" screening workers before work and require them to wear face masks.
DeSantis on Friday specifically said movie theaters would be a no-go under full Phase One, for now.
"I think the only thing we're not doing that the president's guidelines permitted were the movie theaters," DeSantis said. "I'm not saying that we're never going to do that but I believe, and I've been a broken record on this, when you're in an enclosed indoor environment the virus is just more transmissible.
"How you would socially distance in there -- and I'm not saying it can't be done -- but I would probably need a little bit more information before I pull the trigger on that."
Drive-through theaters, DeSantis continued, are perfectly fine.
(Scrub to 56:34 for this detail.)
But the governor's order makes no mention of movie theaters, which seems to give Pinellas County leaders some leeway in opening them as they look at the task force report.
"Well, we're reading the order, and the order says we're in a full Phase One. Nothing within the order restricted movie theaters, didn't restrict bowling alleys, either," Pinellas County Administrator Barry A. Burton said during a Facebook Live. "But that was what we heard the governor say at his press conference. It didn't come out in the order, and all we can do is interpret the order and apply the order."
"The order was real clear under a Phase One, movie theaters, bowling alleys, those types of venues are allowed to operate using the 50-percent capacity and the social distancing requirements."
(Scrub to 7:49 for this detail.)
Pinellas County's latest guidance allows the following businesses to operate at 50-percent capacity under Phase One reopening rules, but large spectator sports can operate at 25-percent capacity. All must "adhere to social distancing requirements.
- Restaurants and food establishments
- Retail sales
- Gyms/fitness center
- Personal services businesses
- Professional sports (but at 25-percent capacity)
- Recreation and large venues
The county also said vacation rentals can request to open, with it asking the state to permit such rentals.
The city of St. Petersburg provided the following statement:
"As Mayor Kriseman stated earlier, he does not intend to restrict the governor's 'Full Phase One' here in St. Pete. The City of St. Petersburg, like Pinellas County, will follow the governor's order as written.
"We are hopeful that Governor DeSantis will begin to align his public remarks with his written orders and that he puts public health at the forefront of every decision."
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