Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that he wants to keep restaurants fully open to ensure workers in the state’s hospitality industry remain employed during the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve got your back,” he told staff while visiting the Okeechobee Steakhouse in West Palm Beach on Tuesday.
As other states continue to shut down restaurants in response to major outbreaks of COVID-19, DeSantis wants to send a strong a message that no restaurants will be forced to close.
DeSantis said, citing a recent New York government study that found only 1.4% of COVID-19 cases have been traced to bars and restaurants.
“The vast, vast majority of infections are occurring in peoples’ homes, particularly if you have people getting together,” DeSantis said. “So closing a restaurant to indoor dining is going to lead to more people doing that in private homes anyways.”
DeSantis said with the Christmas holiday coming up, it’s important to keep business humming and people eating out.
“The evidence at this point does not show restaurants are significant drivers” of the virus, the governor said.
Florida has experienced a steady rise of new COVID-19 cases since mid-October. That was a few weeks after DeSantis pushed the state into Phase 3 of the state’s reopening program, which put restaurants and bars at full capacity.