TAMPA, Fla. - Gov. Ron DeSantis extended an executive order that bans cities and counties from enforcing mask mandates. It also bans local governments from limiting capacity in businesses or restaurants.
"We have to keep treading water," said Brian Reeves, the owner of thirteen Fantastic Sam's franchises.
Reeves says fewer people have come in for haircuts than normal on the day before Thanksgiving. He was glad the governor extended his late September order that bans local governments from collecting fines for not wearing masks, essentially rendering ones still on the books in Hillsborough, Pinellas and elsewhere, unenforceable.
The governor's order also bans cities and counties from re-closing businesses. Reeves requires masks, constant cleaning and temperature checks.
"We have done a phenomenal job in regards to the protection of our staff and guests," said Reeves.
The governor did not speak publicly about the order. A pre-recorded video posted on Twitter Wednesday focused on rising hopes for a vaccine for some of Florida's high-risk populations next month, like residents of long term care facilities and frontline healthcare workers.
New COVID-19 cases topped 8,000 for the sixth day out of the last eight, but prior to the increase, new cases were averaging about 4,000 a day in the beginning of November.
"If we don’t deal with this now, the economic catastrophe will be far worse."
Businesses like Fantastic Sam's might be open but haven't reclaimed previous economic highs. Reeves had to cut about 30 jobs and revenue is down by about half.
"I am hopeful that we will get through this quickly, or sooner rather than later," he said.
The governor's order on businesses remaining open does have one caveat: local governments can close a certain type of business as long as it is accompanied by specific explanations of how it would be needed for health or economic reasons.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com
Map of known COVID-19 cases:
MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map